Dolores Huerta – Not an Icon but an I CAN

Leadership is something that has to be shared. A leader is someone who helps other people grow.

Dolores Huerta

I met her in 2011 at Latism Conference. In a recap blog post, I wrote that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to sit down and talk to Dolores Huerta like we did. I couldn’t have guessed it then that I would one day sit down with her again for a one-on-one interview with this American icon.

Melanie @QueMeansWhat with Dolores Huerta

Three leadership lessons I’ve learned from Dolores Huerta

  1. Work for justice. In her 2012 Medal of Honor speech she said, “The great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action.” That has stayed with me all these years.
  2. Leadership is something that has to be shared. A leader is someone who helps other people grow. Huerta has led by example in elevating others to fill positions on leadership.
  3. Do it anyway! Women can suffer from lack of self-confidence. But do it anyway.⁣ Huerta says, “We may resist the call we feel internally to take our positions to help other people. Do it anyway!”

LATINAS WHO LEAD Interview Series, Episode 2 – Dolores Huerta

WATCH and listen to the full interview to learn how she feels about that today and what she believes is the most important issue for Latina leaders to address today.

She opens up sharing that her son tells her that she’s not an icon but an I CAN. And, that’s so true. Here’s what else is included in the interview:⁣

:36 Q: How does it feel to hear so many people chant the phrase “Sí se suede” – a phrase you coined?⁣

1:16 Q: What was your biggest fear when you left teaching to start the Farm Workers Union?⁣

1:54 Dolores shares a big lesson she learned from her mom.⁣

3:07 Q: What was a leadership lesson you learned that you wish you knew much earlier?⁣

3:53 Dolores shares one thing she insisted that Cesar Chavez change.⁣

4:20 Dolores defines leadership.⁣

5:10 Q: What advice do you give to Latina leaders of all ages?⁣

6:27 Dolores gives advice to young Latina leaders.⁣

6:55 Q: What does Dolores Huerta think is the biggest issue for Latina leaders to address today?⁣

How My Kids Responded to Meeting Dolores Huerta

On the same day that Dolores Huerta was in San Antonio for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Chairwoman’s Breakfast, she visited the Cesar E. Chavez Legacy & Educational Foundation for a Meet & Greet at the local center. That’s where I was able to take my kids to hear from her and meet her.

Melanie @QueMeansWhat with Dolores Huerta and Melanie's two sons.

The center was full of local activists who were eager to hear from Huerta. My boys listened to the conversation and when it was time for questions, I was so proud of the both of them for raising their hands to ask a question. That’s something I’m not sure if I had that same courage when I was their age.

When it was all said and done, I asked my boys what was the biggest takeaway. “We have to get people out to vote, Mom.”

There are many lessons to learn from the woman who has been a part of changing American history. And, in that blog post from 2011, I wrote ” And I ask myself, what work will I do in my community that will be for justice?  I don’t know the answer right now  …” Well, I figured it out. My work since then has been to advocate for education and justice in my writing and volunteering in various organizations with the same goals in mind – work for justice.

Visit to find out more about the difference Dolores Huerta is making today.