Dolores Huerta, Latina Civil Rights leader, co-founder of the United Farmworkers Union, and feminist leader spoke to over 800 students at CSU-Sacramento on Sept 18, on the topic of civic engagement, particularly of young people.
Her talk was lengthy, but she carefully and explicitly connected the assigned themes of the Constitution and civic engagement to a long list of issues important to young people. She explained the role of a two party government, the paralysis of the current Congress, the obstruction of the U.S. Supreme Court, efforts on voter suppression and more.
She began by explaining that the effort at comprehensive immigration reform was blocked by Republicans in the House and predicted that if the Republicans were able to gain control of the Senate in November, the extreme anti immigrant legislation of Republicans would be advanced to an audience that was over 80% young and Latino.
Dolores used current issues to explain constitutional debates including Citizens United, voter suppression, restrictions on women’s choice on reproduction, equal pay, and the importance of labor unions.
Interestingly she engaged the audience of young people on issues beginning at their own level, clearly connecting with her youthful audience. She even introduced the S word ( Socialism) citing the examples of social democratic countries such as the Nordic states, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, to provide free university education while comparing this to the tuition the students in the audience and their families had to pay- to the delight of her audience.
A distinct advantage of her talk was that Dolores spoke to the young people at their of level of political knowledge- not over their heads. Then, she introduced them to important progressive issues. She was engaging and exciting to most of her audience. It is interesting that Dolores drew a enthusiastic audience of young Mexicans and Latinos, and a few Anglos. My reflection is that she is a heroine and leader to young Latinas/os, but much of the Anglo population is indifferent to her message even though she serves on major feminist boards and has received significant honors such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Her closing appeal was for the students to educate themselves, to campaign and work in campaigns as well as to vote.
Dolores Huerta is an Honorary Chair of Democratic Socialists of America. This blog is a project of the Latino network within DSA. Dolores Campbell and I met with Dolores Huerta prior to the talk to welcome her to Sacramento. She is here often. She was glad to see us and to talk about DSA and socialism. I explained to her that a new generation of young people were taking the leadership in our local DSA.
This is a quick report. More to come as we hear from others and listen the recorded talk.
Photo by Hector Gonzalez.
Photo by Hector Gonzalez.