Nov 102002
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta spoke Friday night in the Lory Student Center on a range of issues concerning the farm workers union movement and civil rights issues in the United States.

The “Honoring Dolores Huerta” program was cosponsored by Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity and the “Bridges to the Future” program.

In her presentation, Huerta stressed the importance of mobilizing the people and getting involved. She discussed elections as an essential arena for making a difference. “If this is a democracy, this is not going to work without our help,” she said.

After working as a teacher, Huerta quit her job to work for the advancement of Mexican-Americans. In the late 1950s, Huerta met Cesar Chavez and together they formed the National Farm Workers Association, today the United Farm Workers of America.

Huerta spoke on issues that some Mexican-Americans face, such as the “new wave of discrimination against immigrants in this country,” and also on the process of building the farm workers union.

“The union building has come at tremendous, tremendous cost and we’re still not there,” she said.

Despite all the problems Huerta spoke of, she told the audience to focus on the solutions. “We should not think doom and gloom, we should think of the opportunities.”

The perseverance of the farm workers is an inspiration to all people, Huerta said.

“It gives us a sense of what we can do, of the power we have,” she said.

In closing, Huerta encouraged her listeners to get involved in making changes, saying, “We can create peace, we can create democracy, we can create justice.”

CSU President Albert Yates spoke before Huerta, as did Norberto Valdez, from the department of anthropology and a teacher in the Center of Applied Studies in American Ethnicity, and Sigma Lambda Beta brother Joey Rocha.

Yates spoke on the goals of “Bridges to the Future,” saying that he hopes to “engage the entire state of Colorado in conversation about what it means to be an American in the 21st century.”

Yates then introduced Huerta as someone who has had an impact on all lives.

“Dolores Huerta has helped to build so many bridges for all of us, we are forever indebted to her,” Yates said.

Valdez addressed the issue of the farm worker movement along with Huerta’s contributions in this and other movements.

The issues of the farm worker movement have not just been about farm workers, Valdez said. “The issues have been and are of national and international importance.”

Valdez also spoke on issues such as the “No on Amendment 31” movement, citing the coalition of different kinds of people, not just Hispanics, for its success.

Next Rocha, who instigated the process of bringing Huerta to speak at CSU, recognized the Hispanic Women of Weld County for their contribution in making the event possible. Rocha then introduced Huerta, who was accompanied to the stage by the brothers of Sigma Lambda Beta.

Sigma Lambda Beta, the largest Latino Greek organization in the nation, collaborated with several other organizations to bring about this “Bridges to the Future” event.

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