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¡Sí se puede! Here’s what we learned from Dolores Huerta’s visit to Pacific

This Hispanic Heritage Month, iconic labor and women’s rights activist Dolores Huerta returned to University of the Pacific, her alma mater, with a strong message of empowerment for students. At the end of her speech, she asked the audience to stand and repeat after her:

“Who’s got the power?!”

“We’ve got the power!”

“What kind of power?”

“People power!”

“¡Sí se puede!”

“¡Sí se puede!”

“Sí se puede,” a Spanish phrase which roughly translates to “Yes we can!” in English, has long been Huerta’s motto, with which she empowers others to make a difference. Her passion for social justice has made Huerta nothing less than a superhero for countless activists not only in the local community, but across the country and throughout the world.

Huerta’s Stockton roots

Growing up in south Stockton, Huerta received her teaching credential from Delta College (then part of Pacific) and taught the children of farmworkers in the local community. Witnessing her students’ hunger every day inspired her to take action and organize farm workers to fight for fair wages.  

Huerta began her career in activism by founding the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO). Through CSO, she met prominent activist César Chávez and worked with him to start the United Farm Workers union, a national organization that continues to champion labor reform for farm workers today.

“Stockton is where I learned about civil rights,” she said.

Throughout her speech, Huerta emphasized the importance of caring for your community and staying politically engaged to enact change.

“We are one human race,” Huerta said. “The only way we have survived on planet Earth is because we have been taking care of each other…and that is what we have to do right now.”

Here are some of our favorite moments and key takeaways from her campus visit.

Take pride in your community

Huerta encouraged students to immerse themselves in the Stockton community and appreciate the cultural contributions of the city’s diverse population.

“We are thankful for our diversity in the Central Valley of California,” Huerta said. “It gave us that knowledge that we needed about music and about culture. There’s so much richness here.”

Take care of each other

During her speech, Huerta asked the audience members to take the hand of the person on their left, then on their right, to emphasize the importance of putting human connection and compassion at the center of social justice work.

“To save our country, to save our democracy, is to take care of each other,” she stressed.

Be engaged

Above all else, Huerta encourages young people to take action and be strong defenders of democracy. With midterms elections coming up this November, Huerta reminded the audience to exercise their right to vote and bring as many people as possible out to the ballot box.

“Not enough people are getting out there and knocking on doors,” she said. “We have the power to change things, but we need to be engaged.”

By the way, ASUOP and the political science department will be hosting a voter registration and information event on October 10, so be sure to attend and spread the word!

Hispanic Heritage Month continues through October 15. Check out the full list of exciting events happening on campus.   

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