We've Got the Power
So much of what we need to do is plain old-fashioned organizing. How can rightwingers have more power than we do, when we're the majority in this country? They've gotten more power because they are organized.
We've got to manifest our power. We've got to bring together our different groups that are in silos: the environmental movement, the women's movement, the workers' movement, the civil rights movement. We have to start working together.
We have the power.
When Cesar and I started organizing farmworkers, people said, "How are you going to organize farmworkers? They're poor. They're immigrant. They don't speak the English language."
When we started organizing, farmworkers couldn't get food stamps. They couldn't get unemployment insurance. None of that.
But we said to the workers, "You have the power. In your person. This is all the power we need. But you have to take responsibility. You've got to act. Because if we don't make the changes for ourselves, nobody's going to make the changes."
When I was in charge of the New York boycott, a farmworker called me. He had been picketing in front of a grocery store, all by himself, and he had just succeeded in bringing the store around. And he said, "Senora Huerta, they took the grapes out of the store." I said, "Como se llama?" ("What's the name of the store?") And he said, "I don't know. I don't know how to read." And I thought to myself, this farmworker, out of Delano, California, who'd never been out of Delano before, had gone all the way to New York City and got people not to shop at that store.
I believe in leafleting. In Grand Central Station, we used to pass out 20,000 leaflets a day.
In the farmworkers' movement, we had a saying, "Every farmworker is an organizer." Well, every progressive person is an organizer. But we can't just talk to each other. We've got to go out there and reach some of those people who are out of it and educate them to make them realize that their lives are being affected by these destructive policies. We can do it. But we've got to go out there and organize.
We have a very important piece of legislation: the employee Free Choice Act. …