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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  April 30, 2016 10:00am-10:36am EDT

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>> interested in american history tv? visit our website, /history. you can watch road to the white house, lectures in history, and more. at >> each week, "american artifacts," takes you to historic places to reveal what artifacts say about american history. next, we tour an exhibition about the civil activist, dolores huerta. we will learn about huerta's life, how she became involved in activism, and her role with the national farmworker's movement and the delano grape strike in the 1960's. caragol. name is tina here we are at the exhibition "one life: dolores huerta,
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which is part of our nine-year-old series. we wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the delano grape strike, which launched of the farmworkers movement in september 1965. we did after an exhibition of dolores huerta who was, in cesar chavez's own words, the co-architect of the movement with him. she was absolutely instrumental to major achievements of that movement, that gave dignity and improved the conditions of migrant farmworkers. not as many people are familiar with dolores huerta as they are with cesar chavez. we wanted to, for that reason, bring her life and contributions to light. please come inside. the exhibition starts here with
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some materials that give a sense of dolores huerta's background and how she got into community organizing. she was born in dawson, new mexico in 1930. she was the second child of the marriage of alicia chavez and juan hernandez. when she was about two years old, her parents divorced. so dolores' mother moved with her three children to california. to the town of stockton, which was very multicultural. so that is where dolores grew up. her mother had a very entrepreneurial personality and was a very hard worker. she did everything she could to provide her children with as close as she could to a middle-class upbringing. she did that by working two jobs. during the day, she worked as a waitress, and at night, she
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worked in the canneries. eventually she was able to buy herself a lunch counter, and then a hotel where she would house migrant farmworkers who were passing by the town and could not afford to stay anywhere. she would house them for free. dolores really credits her with teaching the value of helping others. the value, also, of hard work. and the principle of gender equality. because they were quite an unusual family for that time. she was a divorced woman with three children. and house chores were distributed evenly between the three children. and everyone in the family really contributed. dolores did not have to cook for or do the laundry, as in many other hispanic families. she went to school and was very brilliant. when she graduated, she pursued a degree in education. she wanted to become a grammar school teacher.
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and she did. she was really appalled when she started teaching about the conditions of many of her students, who were the children of farmworkers. they really live in poverty. they were malnourished and had very worn out clothes. some of them had no furniture in their houses. everything they had was made of fruit crates and vegetable crates. dolores became very aware of that reality. it was a reality that was not completely alien to her, of course, because she had seen many farmworkers go through her mother's hotel, and also because she had kept contact with her father who remained in new mexico. he was a farmworker. in 1955, she joined the community service organization, which was one of the first civic groups that advocated for latinos in the country. it was founded by this man here, fred ross.
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this is dolores huerta. it really did everything -- the community service organization was an organization that promoted civic participation among hispanics and latinos by providing english courses, naturalization classes. doing voter registration drives. talking to public representatives, the government, and asking for better infrastructure in the barrios. the organization was established in california. fred ross went to stockton to establish a chapter there. dolores volunteered in the effort, and she was so good at it and so devoted that she was given the job as a lobbyist for the organization. she had no legal training, but she had, definitely, a talent with words. was incredibly articulate and persuasive, so she was made the lobbyist. she reported to cesar chavez.
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that is actually where they met. cesar chavez have been working for cso since 1952, and he became the director of the organization. that is where they met. i found that they had a common interest in farmworkers. because cesar himself came from a farmworker family. they realized that the goal of organizing farmworkers to improve their life conditions was going to be hard to achieve through cso. had more of an urban for cus and did not want to enter the arena of labor organizing. it was too political. in 1952, they branched out of the organization. first, cesar chavez did. dolores huerta stayed for a few more months, but eventually she also quit. they both founded what was called the national farm workers association, which was the
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precursor to the ufw. this is dolores huerta here, signing up members at the first convention of the national farmworkers association in fresno, california. she and cesar were employing the tactics of organizing they had learned with fred ross, who was a real pioneer in the articulation of those organizing tactics. he was pretty much the guy who invented the door-to-door canvassing, if you will. cesar and dolores spent the first three years of their organization, the nfwa, going door-to-door and meeting people in the towns of central california. hearing from them, you know, what their main problems were, in order to come up with a
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strategy to combat them. up here on this for, we have some of the conditions that chavezdolores and cesar to found the national farm workers association and to devote their lives to organizing farmworkers. farmworkers had 10 to 14 hour days, six to seven days per week. they were often paid -- most of the time they were paid less than the minimum wage, which at that time in california was $1.25 an hour. they were often paid between $0.75 an hour and $1. so that is substantially less. they had no drinking water in the fields no bathrooms. , child labor was rampant, because the salaries were so low that the whole family had to work, even children. of course, they had to migrate
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from harvest to harvest, which kept children from attending school, which kept families locked in a cycle of poverty. they often had no housing, and if they were provided housing by the county, it was often substandard housing. you can see some of it here with these very thin mattresses on the floor. the short hoe, which you can see on the corner left of the photograph, which was also a way of keeping workers close to the ground, literally. and which caused many, many back problems as well. they were sprayed with pesticides without any kind of warning. as a result of that, farmworkers had a life expectancy of 49 years old when the national average was 75.
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after three years of organizing, between 1962 and 1965, cesar and dolores were about to launch their first strike. however, events caught up with them, and actually in september, when the harvest was about to have been, the filipino workers, the filipino chapter of the agricultural worker's association wanted to launch a strike as well. however, they knew they needed the help of the national farmworkers association. the union of cesar and dolores, which was mainly mexican and mexican-american. so they asked them to join their strike. on september 16, 1965, which is actually mexican national day, the national farmworker's
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association was convened. all of the membership was convened in a sort of town hall. the members voted to join the filipino strike. so they all walked out of the grape fields of delano. the growers responded quite violently. spraying the workers with pesticides. and in order to call the attention of the governor of california, cesar chavez decided to launch a big, long march from delano to sacramento, which was over 300 miles. that march was called the peregrinacion. the movement had quite some religious undertones, which really served as an element of cultural cohesion, in particular for the mexican-american union.
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as we see up here, this is a photograph of that march, which started in delano with a few hundred farmworkers. and when it got to sacramento, california, it was 10,000 people. we see here a photograph by earnest loew of cesar chavez giving a speech on the steps of the california state capitol in sacramento. the backbone of the farmworkers movement was the principle of peace. they were -- cesar chavez and dolores were very much inspired by the figure of mahatma gandhi by dr. martin luther king. they felt they only way they could demand dignity and fair treatment was through peaceful action.
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here, you have wonderful photographs by george rodriguez, a photographer from california who documented the farmworkers movement. and you see the grape crates. grapes really became the symbol of the movement. and a sign, that was probably carried by one of the striking workers that says, "nonviolence." in 1966, the unions merged together to form what we know as the united farm workers. this flag, which is from the collection of the national museum of american history, is an early flag from the union. it has the symbol that was created by richard chavez, the chaves for ther
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national farmworkers association, and that was kept later. it is a black eagle. eagles are very significant in aztec mythology. most of the constituency of the union, when they merged together with the union, was still mexican and mexican-american. so it really resonated with that particular constituency. as i said, it is a schematic eagle that is also an inverted pyramid. if you turn the flag upside down, you can see the shape of the pyramid, like a mexican pyramid. it also has the word "huelga" written in there. huelga means "strike" in spanish and also in tagalog, the native language of the philippines. so the word really resonated with the whole constituency of the movement and kept the
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workers animated and striking from 1965, when they launched the delano grape strike, to the 1970's, when they finished the strike. here we have dolores huerta in one of her many roles. dolores was, since the creation of the national farmworkers association, she had been vice president of the union. when the national farmworkers association merged with the agricultural workers organizing committee to become the ufw, dolores was still its vice president. actually, one of several vice presidents. however, she was probably the most present out there in the media. she was the main communicator to radio, tv, printed media on the goals and the value of the union. she was also contract
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negotiator, which was something at which she was extremely successful. she was, as well, a picket captain. one of the great strategies of the grapes boycott. the grapes boycott was a concurrent strategy with the strike that was devised around 1965 at a very local level. and grew to become a national and international movement by 1966, 1967. so what happened was that in times when there was not much harvesting activity, basically, grape pickers and farmworkers just went to supermarkets around the nation, asking consumers not to buy grapes that were produced
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by these companies that did not want to negotiate contracts with the ufw and telling them about the conditions in which workers were working. so it was the first time that urban consumers were made aware of the human cost of the produce. so here, she is wearing a sweater that was knit by a supporter of the union and given to her. dolores had, as i said -- by the time she started the national farmworker's association with cesar chavez, she had seven children and another one on the way. she had 11 children in total. she really devoted all of her efforts into organizing. she brought her family into that, kind of, protests, rallies, and the strikes.
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sometimes, if she had go get support for the union, she would rely very much on the help of union supporters and leave her children, when necessary, for a week or so with them, so that she could speak to the membership, or whatever. she really lived on a small salary. the salary of the union, which week, and had to maintain all her children with that salary. so she relied a lot on donations of food and clothing from the union. that sweater was given to her by one of the supporters of the union. she wore it very often, because it had the logo of the ufw. so whenever she had to do public speaking, she wore it. and we see the sweater here. this belonged to dolores huerta
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herself, and she lent it to the exhibition. the issue of migrant farmwork was an issue that was in the air since the 1950's, more or less. however, it had not become a national conversation yet, pretty much until 1965. however, there was a senate subcommittee on migratory labor that had been created already by the 1950's. senator bobby kennedy was assigned to it. in the mid-1960's. in 1966, he had to meet with the striking workers and the authorities in delano. he traveled there in march of 1966. there was a hearing happening of the senate subcommittee of auditory labor. just after a few hours of hearing from the farm workers,
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all the exploitative conditions under which they were, he became immediately empathetic. and he became a big supporter of the cause, which really helped the movement become a national movement. we see him here in 1967 at the end of cesar chavez's 25 day fast. he is addressing the media with dolores by his side. the farmworkers became his supporters, in turn, and endorsed his candidacy when he was running in the democratic primaries in 1968. here, we have some wonderful photographs of her negotiating contracts. as i said before, dolores had a real talent with words and is a very convincing person who knows how to argue and debate.
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and so, she was put at the head of the effort of negotiating contracts. dolores was really unyielding in asking for respect and fair treatment for farmworkers. and she really acquired a reputation among the growers of being this dragon lady. they were afraid of her. this is a woman who is, you know, five feet tall, but she is incredibly -- she is a force of powerful andry presence. the growers would beg the unions to send anyone but her to negotiate contracts, however, she was at the forefront of that effort for a reason, because she was the best. from 1966 until the early
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1970's, she had negotiated about 100 contracts. we see her here with many men -- well, just only men in the photograph, which is very interesting. the unions are still mainly dominated by men. if we think of the 1960's, it is even more striking that she was there at the table, conducting that effort of negotiating contracts. she was the first woman to negotiate contracts for the farmworker's union. women had been important leaders -- important union leaders in other economic sectors that had been more traditionally associated to females, such as the garment industry, for example. but it was the first time that a woman was negotiating contracts
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for farmworkers, when dolores huerta took on that rule. -- that role. here, we see her as well, speaking mainly to a group of women. that was also very -- a very important part of her contribution to the union. female farmworkers were very much part of the union, in the sense that they were most often farmworkers themselves. with her husband. whenever there was a family of farmworkers, it was very common to have the whole family working in the field. and they supported the union. however, few of them didn't like dolores, who simply put that at
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-- however, few of them did it like dolores, who simply put that at the head of her responsibilities. she provided, essentially, another model of what a woman could be and do, a new model of public presence as well, and of social and political involvement, simply through her presence as a leader in the efforts of the union. here, we have some of the material culture of the farmworker's movement. a flier that was one of the fliers used in pickets in front of supermakets to make urban consumers aware of the conditions in which the farmworkers worked. here, you see, actually, a child in the grape fields. and another one in what seems like the entrance of a very poor house. whole families were suffering
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under the exploitative conditions in which farmworkers worked. you also have a number of pins in different languages, stating different important messages of the union, from "viva la causa," and the "causa" was the cause. boycott grapes. two pins that were circulated in canada and france, one that says, n'achetez pas de raisins -- it became an international boycott. table grapes that were exported to canada and to europe became , also, the object of protest by international consumers. you also have the pin of the union with arabic script.
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it says, "vote for the union." and you have another one that says, "viva la mujer," with a symbol for women. something i found interesting with these pins is they speak to the reach of the boycott, to the international and multicultural reach of the boycott, and its composition as well. the pin with the arabic message really speaks about the yemeni workers who were part of the movement. this is a movement that has often been referred to as a mainly mexican and mexican-american movement, however, it was broader than that. filipinos were extremely important to the movement. but also, there were african-american workers, there were white workers, there were puerto rican workers, yemeni workers. this series of pins speaks to that multicultural reach and the international reach as well with
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the accurate and with -- with the effort and the whole message of this being a moral cause. this is a bit of a conclusion where wehe exhibition, see dolores huerta living a life of community organizing. dolores has been arrested two dozen times, and actually, in the late 1980's, she was the victim of a severe beating by police at a peaceful protest. she was so severely beaten that she had three ribs broken and her spleen ruptured, and she spent quite some time in the hospital. here, we see cesar chavez by her side in the photograph by one of the photographers of the union. the incident was, interestingly,
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caught on camera by a reporter. it led to a settlement from the city. of $825,000 and to the redrafting of the crowd control policies of the san francisco city police. here, we have the most iconic, artistic portrait of dolores. barbara is a chicana artist, who was one of the artists of the ufw for decades. she first heard about the union as a student, when she was a student at ucla. she was active in the chicano movement.
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cesar chavez came to speak at her university, and she was inspired by his words and how his actions matched his spiritual beliefs. at the end of his speech, she approached him and offered her help for the union. he invited her to become one of the artists of the union. she served the union for many decades. she became very close to dolores. she is -- they are very, very close friends. dolores is very much a mentor to her, almost like a second mother. in the 1990's, barbara wanted to create an image of dolores that would be that iconic image that comes to your mind immediately when you say her name or hear it. one of those images that
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simply captures the personality of someone. she came up with this wonderful portrait, which is very much sort of -- kind of has a pop aesthetic with a reduced palette. you know, pink and blue and ochre. she has her little pin here that se puede," which was a motto invented by dolores during one of the strikes. her name above, which is interesting. among many of the participants of the farmworkers movement, when you interview them and you hear about them, they always talk about cesar. and cesar is cesar chavez.
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in history and in the media, we often hear the full name of cesar chavez or just the last name. but amongst the people of the movement, many of them refer to him simply as cesar. so barbara wanted to accomplish the same for dolores and to have an image where people could remember her by her first name, which is why we have her identified as that. what i love about the artwork, which is in the collection of the national portrait gallery, is that it's one of the artist proofs, and it is dedicated by dolores to barbara. it says, "to my dear beloved barbara, with respect, dolores huerta." here we have the presidential medal of freedom, the highest honor any american can receive.
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it was awarded to huerta in 2012 by president barack obama for her efforts on behalf of farmworkers, along with cesar chavez. >> dolores clara fernanda huerta has dedicated her life working for marginalized unities. alongside cesar chavez, she co-founded united farmworkers of america and fought to secure basic rights for migrant workers and their families, helping save thousands from neglect and abuse. dolores huerta has never lost faith in the power of community organizing, and through the dolores huerta foundation, she continues to train and mentor new activists to walk the streets into the history. [applause] taina: this photograph was taken by harvey richards at the end of the first week of the strike.
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dolores huerta mentioned recently at a public program that this was the fifth or sixth day of the strike. by that time, she had run out of clean clothes and those were the last ones she had. she described how her sweater was very wrinkled, and she was standing on top of a truck, which, of course, we don't see in the cropping of the image. though there are versions around where you see the truck. and holding that sign to animate and to call on workers to leave fields and strike with the association and join with the organizing committee. i hope that viewers of this exhibition expand their knowledge of the farmworkers movement, which is perhaps still
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not as known in detail as part of the civil rights movement of our country. that they understand that these issues are still very important. some of them unresolved. andver, dolores huerta cesar chavez did a lot in the 1960's and 1970's to advance that cause. and dolores was as crucial to to the movement as cesar chavez. the movement relied very much on her incredible skills as an organizer, her exceptional commitment, her unwavering commitment to social justice. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website at
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during campaign 2016, c-span takes you on the road to the follow the as we candidates on c-span, c-span radio, and >> each week until the 2016 election, road to the white house rewind rings you archival coverage of residential races. -- of presidential races. next, the 1988 presidential campaign of gary hart. the formerth colorado senator announcing his campaign in a 10 minute speech. senator hart finished a close second to walter mondale for the 1984 nomination and was considered by many observers to be the front-runner going into 1988. but within weeks of this announcement, senator hart faced


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