As the credits rolled and the lights brightened in the Ken Cinema theater in Kensington, movie-goers arose from their seats and cheered loudly to pay homage to the woman they came to see.
Standing ovations like this for 87-year-old Dolores Huerta following the San Diego premiere of the award-winning documentary about the civil rights leader’s life are long overdue.
Produced by Carlos Santana and Benjamin Bratt and directed by Peter Bratt, Dolores relays the painful truth that despite becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century, and leading a decades-long fight for racial and labor justice alongside Cesar Chavez, Huerta is oft overlooked among the most notable civil rights activists in U.S. history – largely because she is a woman.
Even the slogan she coined for the labor rights movement, “Sí Se Puede,” is frequently attributed to her United Farm Workers partner, Chavez.
“Women cannot be written out of history,” exclaimed Huerta’s daughter Juanita Chavez.
And that’s exactly what the film hones in on.
On this night, at the film screening and Q&A hosted by The San Diego Foundation, Huerta received rightful praise as she took the stage in front of a captivated San Diego audience, who could be heard laughing, crying and applauding throughout the documentary’s unprecedented look into Huerta’s challenges and triumphs as a civil rights leader and mother of 11 children.
The film explores Huerta’s humble beginnings forming the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez, leading the nationwide boycott of grapes in the 1960s (when she incurred near-fatal injuries on the picket lines), and sometimes heartbreaking relationships with her children. She now pours those years of experience into her work with the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
“You had this ambiance all around you that you could really change the world,” Huerta states when reminiscing about fighting for racial and economic justice.
The movie premiere, sponsored by Manpower San Diego and SDG&E during National Hispanic Heritage Month, was the most recent event in the Center for Civic Engagement Weaving Movements campaign, an event series focused on bringing community together to build regional awareness about economic opportunity, environmental access, and the power of movements: how they are made, and how they shape our nation, region and lives.
During the Q&A following the film, Huerta spoke to the audience and inspired hope to those who asked for civic advice during a turbulent political environment.
“Don’t give up,” she urged. “Always continue the conversation.”
Dolores is playing at the Landmark Theatres Hillcrest Cinema through October 5, 2017.