Until this day, I remember taking food out to the eight strangers who were sleeping in our garage. My dad didn't explain who they were, why they were there, or where they came from. They stayed with us for a couple of days, and then one day they were gone.
My dad later explained they were from Mexico and were making their way up north looking for farm work. Fearing harassment from the police, my dad took them in.
And as I sat there at the awards gala of the Latinos in Social Media National Conference listening to the legendary Dolores Huerta speak, I couldn't help but think of those men. Like you, I've heard the stories of her and Cesar Chavez fighting for those who worked in the fields. I know she's an amazingly brave, strong, and intelligent woman. I know she's unstoppable.
I can only imagine what she's seen in her lifetime. Whether standing beside Robert F. Kennedy moments before he was assassinated or being badly beaten by San Francisco Police as she protested policies of then presidential candidate George Bush, this woman is truly a fighter.
At the end of her speech, she had us chanting "Si se puede," the motto of the United Farm Workers and an iconic phrase that has carried Latinos through years of struggle.
Trying not to bombard or overwhelm her, I wait until the end of the night to go up to her and introduce myself. I wonder what she'll be like. Will she be nice? Will she be annoyed because I'm the 100th person to take a photo with her?
As she's looking up at me, I'm immediately put at ease. Her eyes are kind and her smile is gentle. Is this the 81-year-old who rallied with feminist Gloria Steinem, organized boycotts, protested more times than I can count, and fought for those who couldn't fight for themselves?
I introduce myself and tell her how honored I am to meet her. I ramble on about a medallion my mom made in junior high school with the phrase "Viva La Raza" written across it. She laughs when I tell her how I wore it almost every single day. I tell her how proud I am to be a Latina, regardless of growing up not knowing Spanish. And how that has fueled me to be where I am today, as not only a blogger, but a Latina blogger.
The next thing I know, she's asking me for my email address, we're talking about her birthday, and...SNAP! I get my photo with her. I find myself not wanting to leave her side. I want to ask her question after question. I want to know why she does it and where the passion comes from. I regret not asking, but I think I know the answer.
She does it for the human race and community. And her passion comes from her Latino heritage and culture. Her life has inspired me beyond words. I will never forget this day and always remember November 10, 2011 as the day I met Dolores Huerta.