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  • Dolores Huerta to lecture about importance of voting, census

    Civil rights and labor pioneer Dolores Huerta, fourth from right, posed with students and staff after addressing the University in 2017. She is returning for a virtual presentation on Friday, Oct. 9. (Photo courtesy of Luis Mogollon)

    By Cynthia Hubert

    Labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta on Friday will speak virtually to the Sacramento State community about the importance of voting and the census as the University concludes Civic Engagement Week celebrations.

    The Serna Center invites Sac State students, faculty and staff, as well as the public, to the 1-2:30 p.m. event. Registration for the event can be done online

    Huerta, a monumental figure in the farm labor movement, will share her story, offer insights on leadership and civic action, and discuss the importance of participating in the 2020 general election and national census, said Serna Center coordinator Noel Mora.

    Recently, the Serna Center named its board room in Huerta’s honor.

    At age 90, Huerta remains a powerful voice for the working poor, women and children. She is the founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a nonprofit that works to train community leaders and promote community organizing and policy advocacy.

    Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen called Huerta “one of the greatest teachers of all time.” Nelsen said he met Huerta many years ago in Weslaco in southern Texas.

    “She touched my heart that day, and she has touched the hearts of many from Texas to here in California, and beyond. We are fortunate that she will be visiting us again, albeit virtually, at Sacramento State.”

    Huerta was scheduled to visit Sac State in person in March, but her trip was postponed because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “She is obviously a great leader, one of our nation’s greatest leaders, but she also is one of the greatest teachers of all time. I am so glad that we have the chance to learn from her one more time.”

    Few people have “walked the walk and modeled the power” of being civically engaged like Huerta, said Viridiana Diaz, Sac State’s associate vice president for Strategic Student Support Programs.

    Huerta’s activism took root in Stockton, where she spent most of her childhood and early adulthood, and her mother helped mold her into a feminist and activist. She founded the Agricultural Workers Association and set up voter registration drives. Later, along with Cesar Chavez, she launched the National Farm Workers Association.

    Huerta was instrumental in enacting the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which for the first time granted farmworkers in California the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions. She joined Gloria Steinem and other feminist activists to vigorously challenge gender discrimination and advocate for women’s rights.

    She has received numerous honors for her work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Barack Obama bestowed upon her in 2012. The medal is the United States’ highest civilian award.

    “She is obviously a great leader, one of our nation’s greatest leaders,” Nelsen said, “but she also is one of the greatest teachers of all time. I am so glad that we have the chance to learn from her one more time.”

    Huerta’s visit is part of Sac State’s sustained effort to encourage student civic engagement. This fall, the University launched its “Hornets Vote. Hornets Count.” campaign, featuring a voter registration drive, a civic engagement resource fair, and other events designed to encourage student involvement in the Nov. 3 election.

    Sac State’s efforts have earned national recognition. Washington Monthly magazine recently named the University as one of America’s best colleges for student voting. Sac State also scored in the highest category in the recent ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which empowers colleges and universities to achieve excellence in student democratic engagement.

    Go to “Hornets Vote. Hornets Count” to learn more.

    To complete the 2020 Census Questionnaire, visit

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