politics

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 September 20, 2018

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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Huerta became an increasingly important figure in politics.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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In her late 80s, she's still advocating for the people and the causes that made her a different kind of activist and icon of Hispanic American history.

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