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Huerta to Speak on Social Justice

Dolores HuertaBIG RAPIDS – Prominent Chicano labor leader Dolores Huerta will bring Women’s History Month to an inspiring close when she visits Big Rapids and the Ferris State University campus next week to talk about the importance of how people can be positive change agents in their community.

Huerta, a champion of community-level social justice, will present “Without Fear: Neighbors Unite” at 7 p.m. March 30 in Ferris’ G. Mennen Williams Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. As part of this WHM presentation, a five-star campus event, Huerta plans to discuss her life work related to social justice at the community level in addition to how communities can work collaboratively to solve issues.

“Dolores Huerta has long been of interest to me after meeting a student who shared part of Dolores’ story,” said Stephanie Thomson, assistant professor of Communications at Ferris, a member of a large team that has worked collaboratively to bring Huerta to campus. “As a communication scholar, I am fascinated by her unique approach to community organizing and the rhetorical strategies she uses to navigate a great many persuasive settings, such as labor negotiations for farm workers, large and small public presentations to encourage community members to join together, marches, and rallies to motivate and publicize needs of communities."

Huerta, a 1993 National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, is viewed as one of the prominent Chicano labor leaders in the United States. In 1998, President Clinton presented Huerta with the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award. The award honors Americans who fight for rights in the U.S. Huerta also worked with Cesar Chavez as co-founder of the United Farm Workers organization.

Huerta’s Michigan trip to speak at Ferris is in many ways natural. With a strong agricultural base in Michigan, Thomson believes Huerta’s experiences will positively impact those in attendance. Beyond the agricultural connection, however, organizers of “Without Fear: Neighbors Unite” see Huerta an inspirational figure.

“Her more recent work with youth and women provides an opportunity for people in the Big Rapids area to consider how to come together to address problems in their own communities,” Thomson said. “Her desire and ability to spark the voices of individuals, build community and promote ways that we can address our own community issues makes her visit unique and of interest to many.”

Beyond her role as an activist, Huerta is a family woman as a mother of 11.

“Huerta uses her communication skills to promote equity and tolerance for all peoples,” Thomson said.

Sponsors for Huerta’s lecture include the Social Work Association, the Hispanic Student Organization, Lambda Pi Eta, the Ferris Communication Association, the Finance Division of Student Government, the Political Engagement Project, the Academic Senate Arts and Lectures Committee, the Office of Multicultural Student Services, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the American Association of University Women.

“The sheer number and variety of organizations and people supporting this event suggest the potential impact of her visit to Big Rapids,” Thomson said.

For more information, contact OMSS at (231) 591-2617. Anyone in need of special assistance to attend this event should contact OMSS at least 72 hours in advance.