Tonight I got to interview an iconic activist, Dolores Huerta.
She was one the sweetest women I ever met, and to be honest, I expected a grouchy viejita. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps I have been watching too many Mitú videos.
When I entered the room, I was surprised at how tiny she was. And she looked so frail when the Houston mayor helped her up the stairs to get on stage.
But, that was only a look, an assumption; it didn’t mean she was.
When I spoke to her, and hearing her speak on stage after, I couldn’t help but think and smile a little to myself.
For one, I was witnessing a woman who made history by pushing for change. Every little wrinkle must have a story within the crevices, moments of when she was successful and when she failed. Even if she did failed, it did not stop her. Another wrinkle was formed to tell a story of trying things a different way, just to get the end result: justice.
It was refreshing hearing a powerful Latina speak about women’s rights, and refreshing to hear a woman say the thing that wouldn’t be said in many a living room: that we raise our women to be victims.
“No!” Huerta’s voice boomed throughout the room. “You need to be able to take care of yourself.”
She preaches that we should raise our women to be strong so that we won’t be manipulated.
That’s something I wish my elders would say; that’s something I want to spread to the future generation. It made my smile grow wider.
Then I see a little girl with a cell phone in her hand. She walks up front so she can get a picture of Huerta and the rest of the panel.
I couldn’t help but think that this isn’t the first time her mother took her to events like these. This little girl is being exposed to various definitions of the word, “Justice.” She probably already visited a voting booth, standing near by as her mother makes her selection of representatives who will decide the ways of our future.
She probably accompanied her mother for door canvasing as well.
And if her mother works in a political office or a civil service of some sort, it wouldn’t surprise me if almost everyday was “Take your daughter to work” day.
Seeing that little girl gave me hope; it gave me hope that she will grow up, to become aware of what’s going on in her community and the world. It gave me hope that when she witnesses injustice, she will speak up. Probably in a tiny voice at first, worried if she’s doing it right. Nonetheless, that voice will soon grow in crescendo, full of anger and confidence.
She will find ways on how to use her voice, from voting to joining the system. Whichever platform she chooses, she will find one in which she can make the biggest impact.
Huerta said she took her eleven children with her everywhere as she fought and marched along. She said it ended up being a good thing; it made them strong. One is a doctor, another a lawyer, another a chef. One of her daughters works the social media for her organization, the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
“Leave them a legacy of justice; they’ll learn to appreciate things,” Huerta said.
While Huerta has been thanked and told how she has made history, she said she didn’t fight to be in a history book; she fought to change history.
“We’re doing this because it’s the right thing,” she said. “We’re put on this earth for justice, not to accumulate things.”
She adds that when you pass away and you’re in a hearse, you don’t have U-Haul being pulled along.
Right before the Q & A ended, Dolores wanted everyone in the room to raise their fists and say, “¡Si se puede!”
“C’mon,” she said. “¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede!”
Soon, the sound of clapping to the beat of the consonants could be heard in the room. It was the sound of hope, the sound that today’s and future generations can, and will, do something to make change.