Dolores Huerta addresses the crowdOn March 7, 2018, San Bernardino Valley College hosted labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta in an event titled Si Se Puede: A Dialogue with Dolores Huerta. This free event that was open to the public drew hundreds of campus and community members to the SBVC Auditorium to hear her speak about issues regarding politics, education, immigration, and women’s rights.

Huerta was introduced to the eager crowd by John Longville, member of the SBCCD Board of Trustees. He said he first met Dolores Huerta more than 49 years ago, where they became good friends in subsequent decades. “There is no one alive whom I admire more,” he said. Huerta, born in 1930, is a California labor and civil rights activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) labor union along with fellow activist César E. Chávez in 1962.

Greeted by cheers and applause, Huerta proceeded to discuss issues that she endured in the past, as well as issues we as a society are facing today. She walked the audience through the history of civil rights in our country, and highlighted the contributions of people of color, the importance of activism, and the reasons people should fight for social justice. She urged those in attendance to elect progressive candidates who represent their values, familiarize themselves with their district officials, and to vote on both minor and critical issues. Most importantly, Huerta emphasized that whatever your social justice fight, you must remain optimistic.

A student poses with her autographed bookThe riled up crowd joined her in a concluding “Si Se Puede” chant, the rallying cry she helped originate during the UFW movement in 1972. Following her hour-long lecture, event attendees were able to speak and pose with the icon in a meet-and-greet session. Perris resident Bianca Lopez was thrilled to have her hero autograph her book “Rad American Women from A-Z,” which featured the influential labor activist.

The day’s events concluded with a screening of the documentary “Dolores”. The film, detailing the life and achievements of Huerta, was specially screened by KVCR in the campus’s Library Viewing Room. Bruce Baron, San Bernardino Community College District chancellor, called the day celebrating Huerta a “historic moment” for the college and for the district.

 John Longville introduces Dolores Huerta