Permanent Sculpture Installation Ceremony to be Held April 23; Huerta will be in Attendance
(Orange, CA)— Santiago Canyon College (SCC) announces a very special tribute to legendary labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, with a permanent art installation on campus in her honor. The unveiling of a bronze statue – custom made in her likeness by well-known Los Angeles-based artist Juan Rosillo - will take place during a dedication celebration held on the SCC campus on Monday, April 23, 2018 at 12 p.m. Huerta will be present at the event and is scheduled to speak at the ceremony. This is a free event that is open to students and the general public. Local media outlets are cordially invited to attend; RSVP’s are recommended.
Santiago Canyon College is proud to recognize the lifelong achievements of Huerta with the sculptural bust that will be permanently displayed on campus in her honor. It will be located near the main entrance across from the E-Building. SCC would also like to thank generous donors Ray and Toni Mendoza for making this installation possible.
Huerta will be in attendance and is scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremony of the statue created in her honor. Additionally, members of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) Board of Trustees are expected to attend, as is the sculpture creator, artist Juan Rosillo. SCC President Dr. John Hernandez will make opening remarks at the ceremony prior to the unveiling of the statue. Other speakers will include Claudia C. Alvarez, clerk of the RSCCD Board of Trustees; Leonor Aguilera, SCC professor of counseling; and Yesenia Nava, SCC College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) student. In addition, opening and closing music will be provided by “Mariachi los Santos”, a mariachi band from Santa Ana High School. Light refreshments will be served.
Huerta, who just recently turned 88 years old, has dedicated her entire life to activism on behalf of civil and labor rights for both Hispanics and women, and remains active to this day. Considered an iconic figure (and a “force of nature” as world-renowned musician Carlos Santana has said) Huerta is perhaps one of the most important Hispanic activists of our time. She has tirelessly fought for racial equality and labor justice, women’s rights, and equal pay for well over six decades.
She originally set out to create social equality as an elementary school teacher in underprivileged Mexican neighborhoods. She became concerned with the number of children who were coming to school hungry and sometimes even without shoes. She decided early on it was in her best interest to help the parents of these children further their economic situation to improve life for their families. Huerta has said “It was such a calling, I felt it so strongly… this is the reason I live.”
In the late 1950s, while in her mid-20s, Huerta was a champion of immigrant laborers and related social injustices of that time. An outspoken advocate for farm workers, equal pay, and equal rights, Huerta helped start the Stockton, California Chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO) along with Fred Ross. In 1960, she helped co-found the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA), which organized workers and set up voter registration drives in Spanish, while working with local government agencies for improvements in Latino neighborhoods.
Huerta was known as a chief strategist of grassroots organizing, boycotts, lobbying, and campaigning for effective policy change. Her commitment and dedication resulted in the passage of multiple pieces of legislation in Sacramento in the 60s and 70s, which benefited farm workers and their families and protected their rights. She is perhaps most well-known for co-founding the nation’s first farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, (NFWA) along with Cesar Chavez in 1962. It was Huerta that originally coined the phrase “Yes we Can!” as “Si Se Puede!”
She is also known for famously leading the NFWA to join a strike against local grape farmers in Delano, California, which was originally started by the mostly Filipino ‘Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee’ (AWOC) in 1965. In August of 1966, the two groups merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, which Huerta was instrumental in leading to a nationwide consumer boycott of table-grapes in protest of unfair wages. The boycott lasted for five years and ultimately led to a three-year collective-bargaining agreement with laborers, which was signed in 1970 and resulted in pay increases for as many as 10,000 employees. Upon acceptance into the AFL-CIO in 1972, the organization changed its name to the United Farm Workers Union of America, which to this day is known as United Farm Workers or UFW.
During the 1980s, Huerta served as the vice president of the UFW and co-founded the UFW’s dedicated radio station. She continued to speak out on numerous causes and continued her advocacy work to create immigration policy change and better health conditions for farm workers.
Huerta has been arrested a total of 22 times during non-violent protests and strikes, and almost lost her life during a rally in 1988 while protesting policies being offered up by then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush. She was severely beaten by San Francisco police officers, which was caught on videotape and broadcast widely on local television news. Huerta suffered many injuries, including multiple broken ribs and a ruptured spleen, which required emergency-surgery in order to save her life. Her recovery was long and painful.
She later won a large judgment against the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and the City of San Francisco for the attack. As a result, the SFPD was forced to re-examine its policies on both crowd control and officer discipline. Huerta used the proceeds from this settlement to further benefit farm workers. In 1998 she won the prestigious Eleanor Roosevelt Award.
In 2002, she received the ‘Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship’ - along with a monetary award of $100,000 dollars – which she used to start the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on bringing organizing and training skills to low-income communities.
Today Huerta continues her active role as president of the DHF, which according to the organization “Creates leadership opportunities for community organizing, leadership development, civic engagement, and policy advocacy in the following priority areas: health & environment, education & youth development, and economic development."
Huerta has received numerous awards and honors over the years. Notably In 1993, she was the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2012 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Huerta is an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and currently serves on the board of directors for Equality California, People for the American Way, the Consumer Federation of California, and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
The ceremony will begin at 12:00 p.m. on the SCC campus outside Strenger Plaza in front of the E-Building. Attendees should use the entrance on Chapman Avenue for parking. For a map or directions to the event, please visit www.sccollege.edu. For more information or to RSVP, please call (714) 628-4790 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”
About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) serves more than 17,000 credit and noncredit students each semester. In 2017, SCC was ranked #13 among the 50 Best Community Colleges in the U.S. by College Choice, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and careers, and provides courses for personal and professional development, as well as customized training for business and industry. The college is recognized for its adult education program which keeps the working adult - and senior - in mind by offering flexible schedules, and community locations. Serving the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park, SCC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
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