Dr. Dolores Huerta spoke at the National Parents Unions’ Townhall Clap Back event this past Friday – and we were honored to hear from a person who has fought so valiantly for the rights of marginalized families for decades. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Obama, Dr. Huerta spoke to the need for sweeping change in the U.S. public school system, starting with curriculum. She argues that, through usage of outdated textbooks, and a lack of acknowledgement and education surrounding historical events that most impacted groups of color, that our education system perpetuates racism. In her words, “help kindergarteners understand that we are all one human race. We have different ethnic groups, nationalities, and cultural groups, but one human race.”
Among her calls to parents include an ask to do “double duty” where possible, working at the state and local level while parenting and serving as learning coaches to school-age children. According to Dr. Huerta, we talk about references to wartime and how everyone had to do their part – she likened the difficulties our country is facing today to a similar mindset: one where we must all do our part both at home and in civic service. She also discussed the need to broaden liberal arts opportunities for all students – something that she saw President Roosevelt implement during World War II, even in the midst of wartime-level defense spending.
Finally, she recognizes the responsibility that teachers, in addition to parents, have for our communities. These are people of power and respect in our communities, she said, and they deserve our respect. Her trademark phrase “Si, se puede!” meaning “Yes, we can!” in Spanish closed out a very welcome message of unity and tolerance from Dr. Huerta. In her words, she believes that “education is going to save the soul of America.” Now, more than ever, we should all come together to support a message as universal as this one.