I am a junior at Centennial High School and am ranked No. 1 in my class. I am passionate about the importance of community empowerment and advocacy of legislation to protect marginalized communities from identity-based discrimination.

For the past several years, I have worked toward my career goal of becoming a human rights lawyer. I have strived to make an impact in Kern County through various organizations: hosting Holocaust survivor talks, campaigning for Proposition 15 and leading substance abuse prevention enrichment programs for middle school students. More recently, I worked to pass a board resolution to recognize Dolores Huerta Day within the Bakersfield City School District.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 2644, authored by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes and approved by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, Section 37222.20 adds to the education code stating, “On [or around] Dolores Huerta Day [April 10th], all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to conduct exercises remembering the life of Dolores Huerta, recognizing her accomplishments, and familiarizing pupils with the contributions she made to this state.” Many students, parents or community members are not aware about Dolores Huerta Day and it’s something we can all be proud of. Educators who were inspired by Huerta came together to create a curriculum that shows the importance of women in history. Through this curriculum, students are empowered to pursue their own dreams while advocating for social justice. The initial lessons have already proven impactful in San Jose, with students participating in school board meetings, and in Texas, where youth leaders developed an educational symposium with culture and arts that reflect the legacy of Huerta. 

Huerta is one of the most important labor activists in our country. As a Chicana leader of the labor rights movement, she co-founded the United Farm Workers Association and secured countless protections on behalf of farmworkers. Today, she continues to work tirelessly to advocate for working poor, women and children through the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Huerta demonstrates resilience in its highest form. Being born into a working-class family and witnessing countless injustices throughout her life, she grew up to become a historical figure that fought for equality, not only in the Central Valley, but throughout the nation.

As a student in Kern County, I recognized the impact education can have on even the poorest of students. Our county is heavily populated with students that can directly relate to the injustice that Huerta has fought against: poverty, racism and farm labor inequalities. She is someone who looks like many of our students and understands the struggles our communities face. She is someone we can all look up to.

Throughout her life and work, she has demonstrated courage in the face of challenges and a lifelong commitment to fighting for equity. The story of Huerta motivates me to stand up for change in my community. The story of Huerta can motivate thousands of students throughout Kern County to invest in our community and use their strengths to work for a better tomorrow. As she says, “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” 

This past Saturday was her 91st birthday. I am calling for the schools in Kern County to honor her service to the Central Valley and this entire nation by adopting the Dolores Huerta Day resolution and implementing the curriculum on their campuses. The Dolores Huerta Foundation has published the lesson plans online, but we are urging Kern County districts to develop their own with their students and parents or to approve the existing curriculum with faithful implementation. Learning about the empowering story of Huerta’s activism will not wipe away the issues of poverty, racism and farm labor inequalities, but it will inspire students, the future activists of tomorrow, to continue the work. 

For more information please visit the Dolores Huerta Foundation website at doloreshuerta.org and to find more information on the free Dolores Huerta curriculum visit doloreshuerta.org/dolores-huerta-day-curriculum/

Alexander Fan is a Kern County youth activist interested in art, civic engagement, education equity and social justice. He serves in various organizations throughout the Central Valley, working toward a better California.