Most people know about César Chávez's leadership of the United Farm Workers (the UFW); fewer recognize the contributions of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the UFW and the person Chávez thanked for keeping him honest through all the years they struggled to gain humane conditions for those exploited by the agribusiness industry. Director Peter Bratt's documentary Dolores should remedy that oversight.
Writer/producer/director Bratt's chronological presentation is packed with informative archival and contemporary interviews, news footage, and photographs. It traces political connections with well-known individuals from Robert Kennedy to Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem to President Barack Obama, who acknowledges he adopted Dolores' mantra, Si, Se Peude -- Yes, We Can, at the ceremony where in 2012 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This splendid film recognizes the legions of men and women who stood with Dolores in challenging the slave wages, inhumane working conditions and sexism. Beginning with organizing in California's Central Valley in 1962 through decades of strikes and boycotts, Dolores fought on the front lines, building coalitions even as the government at times acted against their legal strategies. And yet, she fought on, including being instrumental in beginning the environmental justice movement that included banning DDT and advancing the feminist agenda.
During the years that Huerta devoted herself to activism, she had eleven children, ten interviewed here. Several of her sons and daughters speak candidly about the pain growing up without their mother fully involved in their lives, with Dolores herself expressing regret and recognition of what her commitment to activism entailed.
Juana Chavez, one of Dolores' daughters, says, "Women cannot be written out of history. It will never change if we keep quiet." This documentary recognizes Dolores Huerta's rightful place in labor's struggles, a woman who at 87 continues to support community organizing through the Dolores Huerta Foundation. The film Dolores has won several audience and best documentary awards. At Landmark's Tivoli Cinema.