Labor Leader Huerta at AG Museum

May 06, 2022

By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times

Visitors to the Agricultural Museum in Santa Paula on Saturday, May 7, will be able to meet legendary civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta and another Dolores, who is the main character in author David Damian Figueroa’s children’s book “El Oz.” 

Huerta — who co-founded the United Farm Workers’ Union with the late César Chávez — will be joining Figueroa at the Agriculture Museum for the book signing and reading of his critically acclaimed book.

The program will start at 12:30 p.m. as student musicians from Inlakech Cultural Arts Center play and welcome Huerta and Figueroa to the museum. At 1 p.m., books will be available for purchase (all proceeds donated by Figueroa to the Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum), and the author will sign copies. 

The reading from “El Oz,” by Figueroa, will begin at 2 p.m., to be followed by a Q&A session with the legendary Huerta. 

Figueroa is an author, producer and farmworker rights activist. His second book, “El Oz,” is for children ages 8 and up. It centers on Dolores, a young Mexican girl from the fictitious town of El Pueblito de los Milagros, and her Chihuahua named Pepito, who find themselves in a strange land after a violent rainstorm. 

There, they encounter a series of fantastical characters and wild adventures as they seek the elusive El Oz to help them return to their home. Author Figueroa grew up working in the fields in Buckeye and Yuma, Arizona – the birthplace of César Chávez. Figueroa’s two official hometowns and his own family provided the inspiration for “El Oz.”

Huerta’s own adventure on her way to becoming one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement is equally fascinating: a native of New Mexico, her mother, Alicia, moved the family to Stockton when she divorced, finally opening a restaurant and small hotel. Alicia’s community activism and compassionate treatment of workers greatly influenced her daughter and helped set her on her life path.

Discrimination also influenced Huerta, who was accused by a schoolteacher, prejudiced against Hispanics, of cheating because her papers were too well-written. In 1945, at the end of World War II, white men brutally beat her brother for wearing a Zoot-Suit, a popular Latino fashion.

Huerta married, had children, and became a teacher before her life turned to civil rights and labor organizing.

The recipient of many honors, Huerta, now 92, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Among the various board positions she has held is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Figueroa’s “El Oz” is already No. 11 in the Fiction Bestseller List at Publisher, the largest independent bookstore in the world. “El Oz” is available globally at online retail outlets, including, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, GooglePlay, Google Books, Apple Books,, Kindle, Kobo, and Walmart, among others.

The Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Ave., Santa Paula. For more information or call 805-525-3100.

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