Voces in Action
UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta's story to be featured at Smithsonian
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UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta's story to be featured at Smithsonian
May 27, 2015

The accolades keep coming for Bakersfield resident Dolores Huerta, a pillar of the agricultural labor movement of the 1960s ande '70s.

She'll be featured starting this summer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The story of the modern agricultural workers' movement and Huerta's colorful life are deeply intertwined -- and that, museum officials say, is the reason the Latina leader is being featured at The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery through the exhibition "One Life: Dolores Huerta." It opens July 3 and runs for nearly a year, closing in May 2016.

The 11th installment in the Portrait Gallery's "One Life" series is the first devoted to a Latina. The exhibition will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the September 1965 Delano grape strike launched by the farm workers' movement, the museum's Marielba Alvarez said in a press release.

"I am proud that the National Portrait Gallery will recognize the invaluable contributions to the history of this nation made by Dolores Huerta," Kim Sajet, director of the museum, said in a statement. "The exhibition will be a visual study of Huerta's commitment to the multicultural, nonviolent farm workers' movement, her motivations and her organizing methods."

From the Smithsonian's announcement:

Huerta's confrontational style at the table negotiating contracts and her sincere commitment to social justice earned her the name La pasionaria, or "the passionate one."

At a time when organized labor was dominated by males, and Mexican American women were expected to dedicate themselves to family, Huerta advanced new models of womanhood, all while rearing 11 children.

Huerta's work for the union was far-reaching, encompassing the farm field, the picket line, the legislature and the bargaining table.

Huerta is the second living figure in the "One Life" series.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded her with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Curated by Taína Caragol, the museum's curator of Latino art and history, "One Life: Dolores Huerta" will feature more than 40 objects, including documentary photographs, original speeches presented by her to Congress, UFW ephemera and Chicano artworks.

"One Life: Dolores Huerta" is made possible by the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino; through federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center; and by the Guenther and Siewchin Sommer Endowment Fund.

The National Portrait Gallery's "One Life" room has focused on the lives and influence of Katharine Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., President Abraham Lincoln, Sandra Day O'Connor, Thomas Paine, Elvis Presley, President Ronald Reagan and U.S. generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture.

Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

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