San Francisco officials Friday celebrated the renaming of one of its elementary schools after farmworker rights activist Dolores Huerta.
The former Fairmount Elementary School was renamed Dolores Huerta Elementary School in honor of Huerta, who helped organize Central California farmworkers with Cesar Chavez and led a grape strike in 1965.
Huerta "personifies the struggle, the persistence, the endurance, the commitment and the conviction of fighting for justice," school principal Luis Rodriguez said to a crowd of students, parents and teachers at the event Friday. "By adopting the name of a strong Latina leader, we want to send a message of empowerment to all our female students, and particularly our female students of color."
The school, located in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood, hosts around 400 students and is known for its Spanish dual immersion program. After the name change was approved by the San Francisco Board of Education in August, the school and parents raised funds to create new signs, murals, a historical plaque, and to hold the celebratory event, which included musical performances about Huerta's legacy in English and Spanish by its students.
Huerta, 89, is credited with coining the phrase, "Si, se puede," or "Yes, we can," now a call famously used by labor activists.
In a speech, Huerta thanked school leaders and the community for naming the school after her, and called for measures like universal free college and higher wages for teachers.
"I have seen that this school is about justice and about human rights for everybody," Huerta said. "We know that education is the foundation of our democracy. If we do not have an educated citizenry, the powerful and the greedy will rule our country."
San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who represents the Glen Park neighborhood, said, "The name Dolores Huerta signifies a hard-working, inspirational and dedicated leader who not only helped shape this state," but this nation.
"If ever there were a time that the work that she did and the sacrifices she made were more important, that is this time, in this era, with the challenges that we are faced (with)," Safai said.