All through elementary school, I learned about amazing people and the things they did. In middle school, I got to study autobiographies and their various authors, and in high school, I studied the movers and shakers, the activists, and brilliant thinkers.
I’ve always found a love for these people, whether they are alive or a permanent part of the past. It’s not that they all necessarily inspire me, but it’s knowing that they have done something inspirational.
I’ve even made a list of all the people I want to meet and things I want to accomplish, titled “Life Goals”. This list includes:
No. 5: Meet Yao Ming – Accomplished
I didn’t actually meet him, but I got to see how ridiculously tall he is from the upper level of Oracle Arena during a Warriors game.
No. 3: Meet Georgia O’Keeffe – Not Possible
Well, that could never happen, but maybe in my dreams. (At least I’ve had the chance to see her work at the SF MoMA.)
No.18: Watch the Star Wars Trilogy – Pending
And all in one night because I’ve never seen any of them.
No. 12: See Earth Wind & Fire – Pending
These might not seem like important life goals, but the list is pretty long and does have a few important, inspirational people. One of those on the top of my list is Dolores Huerta and I finally had the chance last night to hear her speak at NDNU. I was absolutely star-struck and I’m certain that the hundreds of people packed into the theater also were.
If you aren’t familiar with her, she was Cesar Chavez’s counterpart and the leading lady of the farm workers’ movement. She’s possibly the most awe-inspiring feminist, having established the United Farm Workers Union with Chavez and her own foundation. At 82 years old, this spunky, no-holds-barred woman is still fighting for justice and leading others, young and old, in making this nation better.
Ms. Huerta was introduced by long-time friend and fellow activist Father Louie Vitale, who set the tone for her presence and offered humor in light of the brutality that we all know she has faced.
When Ms. Huerta came on stage, she spoke about everything from her children going to jail with her for trespassing, to how much more money is being spent on building jails than on building colleges and universities. The women in the audience were riled up by Ms. Huerta’s feminism sermon and I definitely got a kick out of her “there is no Prince Charming” blurb. She focused on immigration and the steps we need to take to achieve this sort of reform, and didn’t only discuss Latinos. The Japanese who suffered in labor camps, Filipinos who drained the delta and the Chinese who built the railroads were all mentioned.
As an Asian-American, hearing about the injustices against Asians from the Dolores Huerta was unbelievable. I couldn’t comprehend how this woman, who is known for coining “si se puede,” could possibly talk about Asians. However, listening to her at this point brought me to a deeper understanding of what it is to fight – if you’re going to fight for one, you fight for all.
Something she said that really got me was her instruction on how to achieve what you truly believe.
“All the power that you need is in your person…to make things happen. If you feel it in your heart, you gotta fight for it.”
This is clearly common sense, but I believe it now. Maybe it’s just because one of my heroines is saying it, or maybe it’s because I can connect that advice with her work and the things she’s done. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to talk to her or even take a picture with her, but I still left that theater accomplished that I had checked off Life Goal No. 7.