Hall of Honor Inductee
Raised by a single mother in the farm worker community of Stockton, California, as a young girl, Huerta observed the inhumane conditions faced by migrant farm workers and dedicated her life to the men and women who harvest America's fields. Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with César Chávez in 1962. The union later became the United Farm Workers the oldest Latino organization to come out of the civil rights movement and the largest farm worker organization in America. Working side by side with Chávez, her accomplishments are vast. Huerta secured state-backed "aid for dependent families" and disability insurance for injured California farm workers. She directed a national grape boycott to protest the dangers of pesticides on grape pickers, which resulted in the entire California table grape industry changing its practices. And she negotiated the first-ever collective bargaining agreement with an agricultural business to secure better wages and working conditions for farm workers. Huerta was an outspoken advocate for world peace and the rights of immigrants, women, minorities, at-risk youth and LGBT Americans. During her decades of leadership, Huerta endured beatings, death threats and arrests for leading non-violent protests to give a voice to the voiceless. The unflappable leader had her bones, but never her spirit, broken in the struggle. In 2012, President Obama awarded Huerta the Presidential Medal of Freedom the nation's highest civilian honor for her lifetime of advocacy on behalf of the underserved.