Back in 2008, underdog presidential candidate Barack Obama electrified supporters with the rallying cry, “Sí, se puede.” Back then, most folks attributed the saying to César Chávez, even Obama himself. But it was legendary activist Dolores Huerta who was responsible for that famous line, and that under-the-radar spirit has been the theme of her six-decade-long philanthropic career.
This month, PBS’ Independent Lens series will spotlight Huerta’s incredible story, using the words of family, friends, and those who fought alongside her on the frontlines of the fight against racial injustice. Born in 1930, Huerta continues to fight for human rights everywhere at the age of 87. Dolores is produced by Carlos Santana, and will premiere on March 27 at 9 p.m. EDT on PBS.
Huerta was a pioneer in the fight for farmworkers’ contracts dating all the way back to the ’50s, when women were expected to be solely homemakers, and women of color were never to be heard or taken seriously when it came to political issues. But she shattered those norms, steadfastly working for the rights of farmworkers while raising 11 children. Huerta began her activism as a teen, pushing back against the police brutality that was rained on Mexican immigrants and African Americans. In 1959, she became a political director in California, and the 25 year old was soon introduced to Chávez. The two formed the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which later became United Farm Workers. As part of their work, they set up a credit union for this oft-abused population, and also helped with immigration and income tax concerns.
Huerta united with monumental activists Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem on causes that proved mutually beneficial to their individual groups, holding up a concept that’s now called intersectionality. “We were persuaded that revolutionary change was possible,” Davis says in the film. “All of those movements and the individuals in those movements were connected.”
You’ll be able to watch Dolores live on PBS on March 27, and stream it online starting March 28. For now, watch the trailer below and tell a friend about this phenomenal woman.