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Dolores

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What it’s about:

A powerful and important film about an often forgotten chapter in recent history, and an often-overlooked civil rights champion: Dolores Huerta.

Names you might know:

Directed by Peter Bratt, the film includes interviews with Huerta, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and several of Huerta’s kids.

Why it’s worth your time:

She was a trailblazing activist who co-founded what would become the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, and she was with Bobby Kennedy just before he was assassinated.  Yet Dolores Huerta was left out of the history books.  Why is the central question that underlines the narrative of Dolores, an essential, provocative film that sets the record straight, while still managing to avoid hagiography.

For more than 50 years, she bucked conventions and led protest movements for racial and labor justice, and she did this while having 11 kids. She helped lead the nationwide boycott of grapes in 1965 that led to the first farmworker union contracts.  And she nearly died after a police beating in San Francisco, an event the filmmakers capture through archival footage.

Capturing Huerta’s tireless fight on the front lines, we see how the different protest movements of the 60s and 70s clashed, evolved and ultimately aligned. “I know she set me on fire about racial justice,” Gloria Steinem attests in the film. “I would not be able to see what’s hidden in the fields of our country without Dolores.”

While the film’s portrait of Huerta is heartfelt, it doesn’t shy away from examining some of the costs of her activism, including the impact it had on her 11 kids.  You will want to talk about it after.

“It’s educational, to be sure, but also exhilarating, inspiring and deeply emotional.”  Lora Grady, The Washington PostFull review.

The takeaway:

Dolores is a gripping history lesson that also sheds light on the methods, risks, and compromises required to organize and sustain a movement.

Watch it with:

Anyone who needs proof that nonviolent activism can truly drive change.

Worth noting:

Now in her 90s, Huerta is still on the front lines, writing op-eds for the New York Times about police brutality, participating in a recent town hall about The Trial of Chicago 7.   And she is finally receiving the credit she deserves.  California Governor Gavin Newsom declared in early Spring, 2021, that April 10th Dolores Huerta Day.

In 2012, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and acknowledged that it was Huerta who coined the labor movement’s famous slogan, Sí se puede — Spanish for “Yes, we can” — which inspired Obama’s own campaign battle cry.

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