This afternoon President Barack Obama will be awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award to 13 meritorious individuals at The White House, including Dolores Huerta. The award, which was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, is considered the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“To me, it means a recognition of organizing,” says Huerta about what receiving the award means to her. “Organization is important for our country, and the world for that matter, to create a just society.”
Dolores Huerta, 82, perhaps is most known for her community activist work with Cesar Chavez and co-founding the National Farm workers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. However, she has also fought in the women’s movement, was influential in securing the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, and disability insurance for farm workers in California.
“These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our nation,” President Obama said in a statement announcing the recipients last month. “They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place. I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”
Huerta says although she wants to be eternally remembered for her work in the farm workers movement, she hopes to also have inspired others to know how to fight for their rights.
“I hope this medal of freedom will enlarge our grassroots organizing methods,” says Huerta. “I just feel very blessed that I have been able to be involved in these movements in my adult life.”