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Dolores Huerta Square honors longtime activist

BOYLE HEIGHTS — Civil rights activist and labor union leader Dolores Huerta had her name enshrined at the intersection of East First Street and Chicago Street June 22 during a dedication ceremony by the city of Los Angeles.

Huerta, 89, led programs to assist low-income and working families through the Stockton Community Service Organization in Boyle Heights. The intersection was named Dolores Huerta Square.

“Dolores Huerta’s name should be on the lips of every child in America, so they can appreciate what true courage in the face of insurmountable odds looks like,” said City Councilman Jose Huizar, who led the effort to name the square. “Working alongside Cesar Chavez, and continuing today, Dolores Huerta didn’t just blaze trails, she torched mountaintops and obliterated glass ceilings to give voice to the voiceless and lift up communities that are too often ignored, dismissed or shunned.”

Huizar was joined by Huerta along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, ceremony emcee Josefina Lopez and Emiliana Guereca, the Women’s March Los Angeles foundation executive director.

“Dolores Huerta has dedicated her entire life in service to others through her work advancing the rights of farmworkers, women, and other disadvantaged communities,” Solis said. “Her activism, as cofounder of the UFW with César Chávez, ignited the labor movement in California and the nation, and heightened national awareness of the impoverished conditions of farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley. 

“Today, we honor Dolores Huerta with the unveiling of the Dolores Huerta Square to ensure that future generations recognize her important place in our collective history.”

The intersection of First Street and Chicago Street was selected to honor Huerta because before she and Chavez founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962, the building on the southwest corner was once home to the Los Angeles chapter of the Stockton Community Service Organization, according to Huizar’s office. Today, the building is the Boyle Heights City Hall, which the city of Los Angeles purchased in 2007.

“Dolores Huerta Square reclaims and reconstructs public history in Boyle Heights and strengthens the role of Dolores Huerta’s larger civil rights activism and historical memory to a new generation of activists, women and artists in Los Angeles,” said Leda Ramos, Cal State L.A. professor, artist and event co-producer. “When I heard legendary Chicana punk musician Alice Bag sing “I want a Dolores Huerta Street,” which was inspired by a Nikki Darling poem, I started organizing and working collectively with Alice Bag, Emiliana Guereca of the Women’s March LA Foundation, and Team Huizar to make Dolores Huerta Square a reality.”

“Dolores Huerta is a feminist warrior and social justice icon and has worked tirelessly for the last 60 years for human rights,” said Emiliana Guereca, executive director of the Women’s March LA Foundation. “The city of Los Angeles has very few streets or public monuments named after women and, in particular, women of color and that needs to change. We are honored to support the Dolores Huerta Square unveiling and commemorate her legacy.”

Huerta has received numerous awards for her work, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Bill Clinton in 1998. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Dolores Huerta Foundation, started in 2002, works on community-based organizing as well as state and national issues.

The dedication featured performances by the Alice Bag Band as well as several other musicians and poetry readings by Nikki Darling.

Staff and Wire Reports