Monday, March 5, 2012

La Dolores

If we are lucky we get to meet people of distinction who have made a change in people's lives. Because of the way of much of the world, the people we know most about are men. For most of us, they are Euro American guys. That in itself is neither good nor bad, but by looking a little more closely at the size of the group it's less than half the population of the world and only one of the seven continents.

This time of year being Women's History Month I ask that you suggest some women that folks should know about - especially from the mid-twentieth century and before. You might want to check out the National Women's History Project for ideas.

A bit of a disclosure - people over time have been generous with images that they've taken. "Here, I thought you might enjoy this" is a phrase I've heard a lot over the years. Consequently I can't always give credit where credit is due. If I share an image and you recognize its origin let me know and I will give credit. Sorry to say that I have no credits for the following images. That having been shared here's a bit about Dolores Fernandez Huerta. There are lots of formal bios available, links to some are below.
I've chosen this image of Dolores for a couple of reasons - perhaps 3 that are most evident. I am constantly amazed by the fact that in the midst of all her work, her organizing, and her speaking Dolores had 11 children. Those that I've met of those 11 have seemed as down to earth as you'd want to meet. Dedicated to social justice in a way that is both fierce and relaxed.

In part I think that is a reflection of how they were raised. You can't keep fighting for worker's rights for over half a century and not have it kill you if you don't have the right frame of mind.

Close to a decade ago PUSD Board and Superintendent Percy Clark was seriously thinking of closing Washington Middle School. Dolores was contacted by local activist/lawyer Philip Koebel and was asked to speak on the matter. I was lucky to know her well enough that I was able to drive out to Bakersfield, bring her to the meeting - where she spoke stunningly - and to drive her back.
On the way back she and I were accompanied by Mercedes Mantilla who works for Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters. Dolores, Mercedes and I talked about being in Girl Scouts, enjoying tap dancing, and a lot of the sort of small talk that one can enjoy while sitting around the dining room table, out in the fields or driving in the night. It seemed that Dolores had done her bit of eloquent and intense speaking on behalf of the students and now was just being herself. Three generations of women chatting away. Mercedes was glowing all the way back to Pasadena. I was, too.

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