¡Si, se puede! Yes, we can!
She is the woman responsible for the rallying cry that mobilized generations to fight for social justice since it was adopted as the United Farm Workers of America slogan in 1972. And she was in Cambridge on Friday, leading another appeal for solidarity and change.
“Who’s got the power?” 89-year-old activist Dolores Huerta asked a crowd gathered under a tent in Radcliffe Yard as Radcliffe Day came to an end. “We’ve got the power!” her audience shouted back. “What kind of power?” Huerta wanted to know. “People power!” her listeners roared.
The call and response brought to life Huerta’s operating ethos, “the power is in our person,” and she urged those in attendance to get involved to help combat the nation’s rising inequality. “We have the responsibility to become activists,” she said, adding, “all of us have a lot of work to do still.”
The labor organizer and civil rights icon was honored at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, receiving the Institute’s highest award, the Radcliffe Medal, for her more than 60 years of work dedicated to justice and equality for millions of marginalized people.
“She has fought for the rights of laborers and Latinos,” said Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin in her introductory remarks. “She has been a powerful voice for environmental protection, for women’s rights, for voting rights, for LBGTQ equality, and so much more. She is truly a visionary leader and a tireless advocate for equality. In Dolores’ story we see how one person moved to action has in turn inspired and empowered many others to know their own strength and to do the same.”
The annual award, given the day after Harvard’s Commencement, recognizes an individual whose life and work has had a “transformative impact on society.” Past honorees include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; journalists Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff; economist and former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Harvard president emerita, former Radcliffe dean, and Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor Drew Faust.