Dolores Huerta celebrated during investiture week

Sam Underwood, Reporter

Monday, April 29, kicked off the second event of investiture week for CSU Bakersfield and President Lynnette Zelezny.  One of the focal events, a screening of “Dolores” that highlights the life and contribution of Dolores Huerta, took place in the Dezember Reading Room at the Walter Stiern Library.  Huerta was in attendance as the guest of honor.

Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association and civil rights activist, has done extensive work advancing the role of women in society.

According to Zelezny, Huerta is a focal part of the theme for this week: to be inspired by a “sense of place.”

“Bakersfield is the place that is central to the valley where we made a difference in America,” said Zelezny.

The evening began with the emcee for the evening, Mark Martinez, political science department chair, who gave an overview of the format for the evening and told an anecdote about Huerta, calling her “our Rockstar”.

Martinez then introduced Zelezny, where she officially introduced Huerta, gifting Huerta a book that celebrates innovative women leaders from the CSU system that have often taken on positions never before held by women.  In turn, Huerta brought a gift for Zelezny, a framed illustrated poster of Huerta by Chicana artist Barbara Carrasco.

Following the introductions and the exchange of gifts, three speakers were given time to honor Huerta’s legacy. Those speakers were, Ivy Cargile – political science professor, Alicia Rodriguez – history professor, and Thomas Martinez – business and public administration professor.  Each speaker gave historical, political, and sociological, overviews of Huerta’s legacy, focusing on the impact that Huerta has made in the lives of so many people.

Afterward, all in attendance sat and enjoyed the screening of “Dolores,” a documentary about Huerta that was directed by Peter Bratt and produced by Carlos Santana.

A Q&A session with Huerta answering questions from faculty and students alike followed the screening.

Angela Lopez Romo, a 19-year-old freshman and history major, asked Huerta about the historical record of what was accomplished by the UFWA and how much is taught in school.  “Growing up, we only spend one day on the history of what happened,” she said.

Women in leadership positions is a theme of the documentary shown which is appropriate for this week’s investiture of CSUB’s first female president.  In the documentary, the subject of Huerta being left out of the historical narrative often arises.

Kate Frausto, 18, and a freshman liberal studies major said that “All we ever hear is only about Cesar Chavez. Then we come here and find out about Dolores.”

Huerta left words of advice for those gathered to hear her speak regarding the ways to make a difference in the world.

“Women have to take our place…and If you see world leaders making decisions, and you don’t have any feminists in the room, then they are going to make the wrong decisions,” said Huerta.

At the end of the evening, Huerta led the entire congregation in an organized chant that ended with her catchphrase, “Sí se puede.”

“I hear this message all the time working for the foundation,” said Mario De La Pena, 20, sophomore and political science major.  De La Pena is also a member of CSUB Associated Students, Inc. and works for the Dolores Huerta Foundation in Bakersfield.

“It’s good to know that she still is motivated,” De La Pena said.

In true Huerta style, there was a representative in the library, just outside the door to the Dezember Reading Room, handing out flyers to attend Kern County’s truth act forum as people left the screening.