Every year from September 15th to October 15th in the U.S. we celebrate the great influence of Hispanic and Latino heritage to North American culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month. At the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) we recognize the contributions of Latinos 12 months a year, since more than 75% of farm workers in the U.S. are of Latino descent. It is because of farmworkers that we are able to walk into a grocery store and obtain the fruits and vegetables that we are accustomed to consuming as part of our daily diets; if it has not been said enough, we thank you!

This year I, like many others, would like to focus on a civil rights icon often only mentioned as a supporter of the farm worker labor rights movement. For those of us dedicated to farmworker issues, Dolores Huerta is a household name. Huerta is often spoken of in conjunction with César Chavez as the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) but she was so much more. This month a new documentary, Dolores, was released to much acclaim; it chronicles the woman behind the organization and her pursuit of social justice for migrant farmworkers, speaking of the whole person and not just the polished public face.

Here we stand in the 21st century, rapidly approaching the year 2018, and we find ourselves fighting some of the same battles our grandparents and parents fought in their prime. As a woman of color, mixed heritage, and great investment in social justice, I believe we need to shed more light upon the role of women in history. We must champion the differences that allow us to be diverse individuals, and we must protect our rightful freedoms. What better example than Dolores Huerta to highlight just that. To this day, she continues to fight for inclusion of underrepresented communities across the U.S.

So, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Dolores Huerta, I would like to say ¡sí, se puede! ¡SÍ, SE PUEDE! ¡YES, WE CAN!

And what’s more, we must continue to fight for worker’s rights. AFOP Health & Safety will continue to do its part, making sure that farmworkers know how to protect themselves from the hazards associated with agricultural labor. Our network of trainers do an amazing job of educating the farm worker community through occupational health and safety trainings, and we look forward to empowering farmworkers this and every month with the knowledge to stay safe in the fields.