Today, we know Dolores Huerta as the cofounder, with Cesar Chavez, of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. We know her as a tireless advocate for the rights of farmworkers, Mexican American immigrants, women, and LGBTQ populations. And we know her as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012.
Before all that, though, Huerta was a child in the farming community of Stockton, California, and then a teenager whose teachers underestimated her because she was Chicana. When she became a teacher herself, she witnessed her students coming to school shoeless and hungry. Many took days off from school to work in the farm fields to help feed their families. What could she do to help them? A young mother at the time, Huerta quit her teaching job to organize their parents. That began her journey to educate a nation about who produces our food and the conditions under which they work.
Dolores Huerta Stands Strong follows Huerta’s life from the mining communities of the Southwest where her father toiled, to the vineyards and fields of California, and across the country to the present day. As she worked for fair treatment for others, Dolores earned the nation’s highest honors. More important, she found her voice.
“A biography for the times … Brill paints a vivid picture of her subject and calls attention to a civil rights leader who was often overshadowed by her male counterpart even as she fought sexism in her own community.… An excellent read for anyone hoping to believe one person can make a difference. Young readers will recognize Dolores Huerta’s rallying cry ‘Yes, we can!’ even as they are inspired by her vision for a better world.”
“[Brill] takes complex issues, such as unionizing, collective bargaining, and Communism, and makes them comprehensible for the intended audience. Many of the issues Huerta championed—workers’ rights, the living conditions of immigrants, women’s equality—are still timely topics that will resonate with today’s youths.…VERDICT This well-told, age-appropriate account of a vital and essential activist deserves a place in all middle grade collections.”
“[Dolores Huerta Stands Strong] … effortlessly weaves Huerta’s personal story into the epic of her generation. Notes at the end of chapters give additional information about what society was like at the time, a crucial addition for young readers who may not have a deep sense of historical perspective and who believe that the world has always been the way it is right now.… This is a great addition to any collection and gives a fresh choice to readers who are investigating biographies.”
“Brill has crafted an enticing and empowering picture of courage, belief, struggles, commitment, and justice that future generations of all colors and genders can use as a model for future battles. ‘Sí, se puede,’ or ‘Yes, we can,’ is rightfully attributed to a courageous Latina whose message has been echoed and propelled all over the world.”
Maritza Rocha, Director of Youth Services, Mujeres Latinas en Acción
“In crisp language that will draw young readers in, Marlene Targ Brill shines a spotlight on the life of union organizer Dolores Huerta. As she does in many of her biographical studies, Brill strikes just the right balance between the personal and the political, offering the reader insight into how individuals shape—and are shaped by—the social forces around them.”
W. Nikola-Lisa, author of Gustavus Myers Honor Book How We Are Smart