An extraordinary human being and a tireless activist in the battle for justice for farm workers, Dolores Huerta has been US history’s forgotten hero. Peter Bratt’s moving documentary Dolores is a fascinating revelation of this woman’s story and the huge impact she has had on civil rights for the immigrant labourer.
Partnered with the famed Cesar Chavez in the running of their farmer’s union, Dolores Huerta was as important a leader as he was, if not more so. Although Chavez’s gender allowed his name to symbolise the movement, in reality Huerta was the much beloved inspiration and energy behind it. A single mother with 11 children, she nevertheless directed enormous efforts and devotion to her ideals, often leaving her offspring with friends while spending much time on the road. Despite predictably sexist attacks for not staying home with her children and two divorces, her spirit was such that she was immune to criticism.
Outraged by the racist and demeaning slave-labour conditions of US farm workers in the 1960s, Huerta was moved to fight for change amid an atmosphere of extreme sexism in which harassment and rape were commonplace. Supported by Robert Kennedy there was tremendous hope for advancement, suddenly left adrift by his tragic assassination. However, the indomitable Huerta soldiered on, gaining political support from Democrats and teaming up with feminist activist Gloria Steinem. The latter opened Huerta’s eyes to the women’s movement and abortion rights (prior to which she had been anti-abortion), and Steinem in turn learned about the significance and impact of racism.
Backed by those such as the Clintons and the Obamas, her ideas were – not surprisingly – criticised by Republicans: Nixon, Limbaugh, Reagan, Bush and Fox News, who seemed to be painfully blind to the realities of her cause.
With clearly excellent and thorough research, Bratt has gathered an impressive and well assembled collection of historical footage combined with interviews and narrative input by Huerta as well as her children – who honestly describe their love for and massive pride in their mother, but also their deep sadness resulting from her frequent extended absences. An eye-opening documentary, Dolores is a wake-up call to all of us about the vital importance of emerging from limited perceptions of life to a greater awareness and understanding of our common humanity, and the full recognition of our heroes, unhampered by racism and sexism.
Dolores is released nationwide on 1st December, 2017.
Watch the trailer for Dolores here: