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    Dolores Huerta’s Life and Achievements Should Be Taught More in Schools

    By Lyndsey Schlax–

    (Editor’s Note: It has just been announced that teacher Lyndsey Schlax of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, along with Sonya Mehta and Sarah La Due, will receive the New Leaders Council 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award! They are being honored for founding and growing Teachers Take Action Against Gun Violence (https://www.facebook.com/TeachersTakeAction/). Please join us in congratulating them on this well-deserved honor. The awards will be presented at the event “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: A Celebration of a Progressive Community” on May 10 at 111 Minna Gallery. For more information, go to the NLC website (http://sf.newleaderscouncil.org/2018standinggiants?utm_campaign=2018chapterfundraiser_4242018&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sanfrancisco). In 2015, Schlax launched the nation’s first on-site high school LGBT course. She still offers that groundbreaking class but is teaching Ethnic Studies this semester. The two subjects often intersect, so in this column her students share their thoughts about both Ethnic Studies and LGBT-related matters, including their concerns, what they have learned in class and more. Here, two twelfth graders write about labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who recently turned 88. We were honored to spend time with Huerta when she gravitated to our San Francisco Bay Times Pride Parade contingent assembly area a few years ago. Some of our talented contingent members broke out in a spontaneous Latin dance on that festive Sunday morning, and Huerta was so happy and captivated by their impressive moves. She is one soulful woman. Long live Dolores Huerta!)

    1. Recently we watched the documentary film Dolores about Dolores Huerta and her role as co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association. When Cesar Chavez started the farmworkers movement to gain respect and rights for these individuals, he was accompanied by Huerta. Although she made most of the decisions, and even sacrificed time with her family to restore the civil rights of her community, she is left out of the dominant narrative. This documentary showcased her achievements and reminded me of all women in the past and present who have not been credited for their hard work and involvement.
    2. For most of my life, all I knew about the farmworkers movement was that: a) farmworkers were being treated unfairly and needed to protest; and b) Cesar Chavez led the movement.

    I’ve grown up surrounded by paintings of, and tributes to, Chavez. I’ve been taught about him countless times in my elementary school classrooms, middle school classrooms, and high school classrooms. There are murals, portraits, children’s books, statues and even entire buildings immortalizing Chavez. As for Dolores Huerta, her name was always thrown in as an aside at the end. The world has largely stayed silent on her.

    The documentary Dolores, released last year and directed by Peter Bratt, may change that. It includes interviews of high profile activists and politicians as well as Huerta herself, as well as footage from the years that she led the farmworkers movement, footage of Chavez himself praising her and more. Together, these images paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of person Huerta is.

    A fiery activist and leader, she negotiated with businesses—or wore them out until they were ready to negotiate—led marches, recruited people to join the cause of the farmworkers, helped to join the farmworkers movement with other movements, gave up her comfortable life in the name of equality and that is all just for a start.

    Chavez and Huerta were both amazing activists that were truly able to change our nation. Still, I didn’t know who Huerta was until a week ago. Why is Chavez the only one getting the credit?

    For more information about the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, please visit http://www.sfsota.org/