While most may know Dolores Huerta for her founding of the United Farm Workers labor union with Cesar Chavez, her passion for the transformative capacity of the arts might not be as well-known.
On Sunday, November 13, “Concierto para Dolores: A Musical Tribute to Dolores Huerta” at Cal State Northridge honored Dolores Huerta with a tribute to her lifetime of advocacy and passion for the arts. The concert was produced by and held at the Soraya Performing Arts Center. The concert was close to capacity at the 1,700-seat music hall.
CFA Northridge members were thrilled to play a role in the memorable evening. In honor of Students for Quality Education (SQE), CFA Northridge sponsored 200 student attendees with Apple gifting each student a free ‘Beats headset.
CFA Northridge President Nate Thomas felt jubilation in helping plan the event.
“We are always known for picket signs. But this was a time we got involved in planning a campus event. It was fun.” Thomas remarked. “We are activists; we are a union. People like Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez paved the way.”
In creating the concert, The Soraya started with Huerta herself – her fondest memories and the music that inspired the movement. The result was a unique collection of folk music, R&B, ballads, and mariachi performed by some of today’s great talents in music. Among the artists that performed were Latin Grammy nominees Gaby Moreno and Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr. of The 5th Dimension fame, and recent Grammy-Award-nominee David Aguilar. Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar also performed. Comedian Cristela Alonzo hosted the concert.
“An inspirational and moving night about Dolores Huerta and how we can take her work and make the world a better place,” was how CSU Northridge faculty member and attendee Ana Prata explained the evening.
According to CSUN Today, Huerta’s music interests spanned jazz to rancheras. When she was young, she played the violin and tap danced. Later as a teenager, Huerta studied flamenco guitar. As the LA Times noted, a cousin introduced her to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie records. As a teenager growing up in Stockton, Huerta regularly went with friends all over the Bay area to listen to Jazz, such as Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington.
After the event, when Huerta and members of the Chavez family turned a corner to come to the post-event reception area, “200 students started screaming, ‘Si se puede.’ Some of us just started crying,” Thomas remembered, still stirred by the memory.
At the post-concert reception, Thomas and CFA Northridge campus leader member Theresa Montaño had the unique honor of addressing the attendees.
“I could feel the energy,” Thomas reflected. “It inspired all of us to continue the work. Being there that evening reaffirmed what we have been doing. We are doing the right things as a union.”
The evening also included clips of Huerta speaking through the ages, courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives and radio station KPFK.
For Thomas, the concert embodied something his mother would often say: “give me my flowers while I am living.”