Yes, she could (and did)

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, CNN Politics looks at some of the most influential Hispanics in US political history

By Brenna Williams

Published October 5, 2020

Todd Oren/Getty Images for NWHM

Dolores Huerta's life and work show that a person doesn't need to be a politician to have a lasting impact on political and social issues.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Huerta's public life -- so far spanning more than six decades -- has been dedicated to activism on civil, labor and women's rights issues.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Huerta was born in New Mexico in 1930. Her father was a farm worker who went on to serve in the New Mexico legislature. Huerta was a Girl Scout as a child.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In 1955, she helped start a community service group. She also encouraged voter registration and established the Agricultural Workers Association.


During this period, she was introduced to César Chávez. In 1962, the pair founded the National Farm Workers Association, which became United Farm Workers.

Getty Images/File

She successfully negotiated, lobbied and led strikes for issues like disability insurance, safe working conditions and organizing rights for farm workers.

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Huerta became an increasingly important figure in politics.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

She earned Robert F. Kennedy's gratitude when he won the California Democratic primary on the night of his 1968 assassination.

YouTube/JFK1963/Bill Eppridge/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Her involvement in political activism would brush with violence again in 1988. Huerta -- then in her late fifties -- was beaten by a police officer in San Francisco during a protest.

She has been an advocate for women's rights, and particularly encouraged women -- especially women of color -- to run for office.

Vince Bucci/Getty Images

In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Getty Images

Obama's signature "yes we can" call owes to Huerta and UFW's "si se puede" (which translates to "yes we can" in Spanish) slogan.

Getty Images/PBS/Getty Images

In recent years, Huerta has spoken at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.


In her 90s, she's still advocating for the people and the causes that made her a different kind of activist and icon of Hispanic American history.