New Documentary Tells The Story Of An Activist Who Refuses To Be Written Out Of History

“It was such a calling, I felt it so strongly.”

She may just be the most vocal activist you've never heard of. But Dolores — a documentary about labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta — is a testament to a woman who will not be written out of history.



The recently released, Peter Bratt-directed documentary showcases the life of Huerta like never before. From the start of her activism work at the age of 25 to leading the fight alongside Cesar Chavez of the National Farm Workers Association — which later became the United Farm Workers of America — to gaining the support of Sen. Robert Kennedy before his assassination to being recognized by President Barack Obama. Huerta has been described as a legendary farm worker organizer responsible for the first farm worker's contracts, a threat to farm growers, a labor and civil rights leader who the FBI felt was dangerous, and an icon.  

"It was such a calling, I felt it so strongly," she said in archival footage in the documentary about her start in activism.

At the time, she was a mother of seven children who was going through a divorce.

The once-aspiring dancer and lover of jazz music traded in her passion for something more, a life's work dedicated to fighting for "power for the powerless."

Still, recognition isn't what she seeks from this new chronicle of her life. Instead, the 87-year-old Chicana, whose fight for social justice began over 50 years ago, wants the documentary to inspire people to take action and create change in their own communities and in the world.

"When they see the documentary, I hope they say, 'Oh if those farm workers can do that, then I can do that also,'" she recently told a group of journalists. "And that they see the need for organizing and activism and engagement."

Through the United Farm Workers of America, a U.S. labor union founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez and Huerta, they were able to provide services such as life insurance, benefits, income tax filing, and even a bank with lending services to Chicano migrant workers with the ideology that farm workers can and should share in the wealth that they produce.

"The struggle started off as a labor struggle and then they come up against this wall — racial injustice," Bratt told reporters. "At the same time these powerless workers, while they're working in the field they're being sprayed by toxic chemicals, and it morphed into a struggle for environmental justice."

Outside of the injustices Huerta was fighting against for others, Bratt adds how the documentary shows the struggles she was met within her own life as a mother of 11, who was twice divorced and in a relationship with Chavez's brother, Richard, who was married when they first got together.

"As a woman and as a woman of color, (she experienced) gender bias within the dominant culture, but also within the movement itself. Her struggle morphs into a feminist struggle," Bratt continued. "So, looking at the film, particularly from that organic place where she lives, you can see that you're all interrelated. They're not necessarily separate and I think that's something we need to liberate ourselves from."

Liberating viewers is the overarching goal of the film although Bratt is candid about how difficult it was for Huerta to be open about discussing her own story when she's lived a life of helping others. But when she saw the power that could come from sharing her story, she was all in.

"Everyone's voice matters," Bratt said.

"And everyone's story matters, like we saw in the film," Huerta added.

As you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, you can head to theaters now to see the film and see a portion of it here.

And you can check out the official trailer for "Dolores" below:



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