(Stockton, CA) Dolores Huerta could only stay for a few minutes, but the message she delivered to an audience of 650 people at San Joaquin Delta College is likely to resonate for a long time.
Huerta, the civil rights icon and Delta College alum, appeared briefly on Wednesday, Feb. 28 prior to the screening of the documentary “Dolores” at Atherton Auditorium. The screening kicked off a series of Women’s History Month events.
Huerta spoke of societal concerns including a “storm” of racial discrimination, misogyny and homophobia, but also urged the enthusiastic audience not to get discouraged. She quoted the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda: “They can cut all the flowers but they can’t hold back the spring.”
“Think of yourselves as the gardeners who are going to go out and sow the seeds of justice,” she said. “And those seeds are going to flower and the spring is going to come back. But we know we have to go out there and do all the work.”
Huerta moved to Stockton from New Mexico at the age of 6. She lived south of Harding Way in a culturally diverse neighborhood.
“I was so blessed,” she said. “… I think that really prepared me for the world and helped me to be able to identify and be able to relate to so many different ethnic groups.”
Later, she became a skilled organizer and strong advocate, launching the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez.
Huerta told the Delta crowd that educational institutions should be teaching students as early as kindergarten about the contributions of people of color in the United States. She also urged the public to be politically active in the 2018 elections.
She said Stockton was where she learned her values.
“When this documentary first came out, I said, ‘You’ve got to show it in Stockton. You’ve got to show it in Stockton,’” Huerta said. “This is my hometown, right?” And the crowd applauded.
“We are extremely thankful to Dolores Huerta for inspiring our students with her courage, commitment, and passion for social justice and equity for all people,” said Delta College Superintendent/President Dr. Kathy Hart. “Her presence here at Delta made the screening of Dolores even more meaningful. We will invite her to return to the campus soon so that we can properly honor her and invite the larger community.”
The event was organized by Delta College’s Women’s History Month Committee and the Office of Student Equity and Diversity, in partnership with KVIE.
Other Women’s History Month events at the college, all of which are free and open to the public:
- The Dolores Huerta Resource Fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 8 at the Delta Plaza. This event will help connect students with community organizations dedicated to the issues important to Huerta.
- “The Ito Sisters – An American Story,” a documentary about the experience of Japanese Americans, will be shown at 1 p.m. March 17 at the Tillie Lewis Theatre. The film is presented by the Stockton Japanese American Citizens League and by Delta’s Asian Pacific Islander American Staff Association.
- The film “Liberated,” will be shown at 12:30 p.m. March 27 at the college’s West Forum. The film tells the story of a young man who fled Oaxaca, Mexico for the United States 20 years ago, returning later as a transgender woman and healthcare advocate. The Delta Pride Center will welcome Alejandra, who is portrayed in the film, and film director Brenda Avila-Hanna for a question and answer session.
Delta College Radio/Television students are preparing six podcasts to honor contributions by women who attend or work at Delta College. The first, hosted by Sabrina Rodriguez, features an interview with Dr. Hart. It is available at https://soundcloud.com/user-997997261/womens-history-month-episode-1.