COACHELLA, CA âCoachella City unveiled a mural on Wednesday morning celebrating longtime labor activist and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta.
The mural was created by David Damian Figueroa and can be found on the corner of Vine Avenue and Sixth Street in downtown Coachella.
Huerta, 91, who spoke at the ceremony, was the co-founder – along with Cesar Chavez – of the United Farm Workers Association (NWFA), which was the predecessor of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW)
“There are so many people who could be on this mural in my place because there are so many people who have worked in the movement. The fact that I am chosen, I feel very, very humbled,” said Huerta at the ceremony on Wednesday.
Women’s History.org has called Huerta one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.
In her work for UFW, Huerta organized workers, negotiated contracts and advocated for safer working conditions, including the elimination of harmful pesticides. She also fought for unemployment and health benefits for farm workers, according to Women’s History.org
Huerta was the driving force behind the nationwide table grape boycotts in the late 1960s that led to a successful union contract in 1970.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, Huerta recalled participating in the farmworkers’ protests at Coachella.
âI remember in this park right behind us, when we were fleeing from the police, they were chasing us with tear gas,â Huerta said. “We had a rally, no one was doing anything wrong, and all of a sudden they came up to us with batons, beating people, and we are all running for our lives.”
Huerta said it was nice that she smiled on the mural, but that the days of strikes and boycotts were “a time of anxiety, a time of suffering” rather than smiles.
Figueroa, speaking at the ceremony, called his mural âhopeâ.
Huerta agreed and she explained how times have changed at Coachella, especially politically.
âI just want to congratulate all the leaders at Coachella because in those (old) days political power was completely and totally against us,â Huerta said. “What you have done politically is to transform this neighborhood by giving political power to the people who deserve it, to our Latino community. It’s amazing!”
Still, Huerta said it’s important for Coachella to remember her past and her role in the fight for farm workers’ rights.
âNow we know Coachella is famous in the United States and around the world thanks to the Coachella Festival,â Huerta said. âBut we shouldn’t let people forget, and the real reason Coachella needs to be remembered is for the sacrifices people have made to bring justice to the farm workers who feed the nation. That’s what (Coachella) is for. must be known, and I’m just blessed to have been a part of it. “
Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez, members of Coachella City Council and other local dignitaries joined Huerta and Figueroa at the ceremony.