In celebration of Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month, Ropes & Gray welcomed civil rights icon Dolores Huerta on October 5 for a conversation about her life’s work as a community organizer and civil rights activist.
One of the most influential activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement, the 91-year old Huerta has dedicated her life to fighting for social justice. She co-founded, with César Chávez, what became the United Farm Workers union (UFW), organizing agricultural laborers in California who were being subject to inhumane working conditions. Huerta coined the slogan “Sí Se Puede” and was the key architect of the nationwide boycott of grapes in the late 1960s that led to the first farmworkers union contracts.
After her work with the UFW, she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which continues to work to empower communities to pursue social justice. Huerta has been the recipient of numerous national honors, and in 2012 she was given the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Barack Obama.
Asset management partner Elizabeth Reza welcomed everyone to the event, noting that for many years Huerta’s role as a civil rights leader had been largely left out of the history books. “This was not uncommon,” said Reza. “Our historical narratives have often omitted or downplayed the significance of women, of Indigenous peoples, of enslaved people, of immigrants to our collective story. This is why it is so important to celebrate heritage months and to bring to light the experiences and participation of these communities.”
Joining Huerta in conversation was health care partner and co-chair of the Ropes Multicultural Forum Adrianne Ortega. The hour-long conversation covered topics ranging from Huerta’s upbringing and early experiences as a community organizer in Stockton, California, to leading the Delano grape strike, to her evolution as a feminist and the intersectionality of civil rights causes.
The Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month celebration reflects Ropes & Gray’s longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The event was sponsored by the Ropes Multicultural Forum, which works with the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team to sponsor events and initiatives that foster cultural awareness among the firm’s lawyers and business support professionals, and to celebrate the richness of the firm’s diverse community.
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