Civil Women – Women’s History Month


– They’ve been called such
names as, “Freedom Fighters.” – “The First Lady
of Civil Rights.” – And, “Mother.” – But, never have they
been called complacent. – Dolores Huerta, Rosa Parks
and Frances Grice. – Women whose actions changed
life not just locally, but on a national level by
setting a precedent for others. I’m Jessica Greenwell
with Iris Hill. – Today, we feature three
individuals who fought tirelessly for the
rights of others. – As feminists,
catalysts and activists. – Welcome to Civil Women. (uplifting music) ♪ – Few have contributed as
much to the advancement of oppressed groups as
Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, Dolores Huerta. Huerta was born
on April 10, 1930. Raised by a single mother
who overcame the odds by opening a large hotel
providing shelter to low-wage workers,
she spent her childhood in the highly diverse community
of Stockton, California. After starting a
career as a teacher, Huerta saw the misery of
students living in poverty and felt called to a life
of fighting injustice. With the legendary Cesar Chavez, she founded the National
Farm Workers Association. But, that was just the start
of her accomplishments. She went on to successfully
lobby for unprecedented gains for farm workers, including
disability insurance and the right to unionize. As revolutionary as her work
for agricultural laborers was, her fights for women
were no less significant. Often partnering with
feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, Huerta traveled
across the country on behalf of the
Feminist Majority, encouraging women
to run for office and leading to significantly
more female representation at every level of government. She remains a social
justice warrior, and we at the Empire Network
PBS were honored to interview her during
Women’s History Month. – Who’s got the power?
– We’ve got the power! (crowd cheering) – We’ve got the highest
number of women ever that are now running
for political office at all different
types of levels. And, I do believe, that we
have a political reawakening that is happening in the
United States right now. – Dolores Huerta
is a living legend. We had a packed auditorium here at Valley College
listening to her and she got everybody
on their feet. Everybody wanting
to work together toward a better world, and everybody saying,
“Yes, we can. Yes, we can!” (crowd chanting/clapping) And she’s still so
relevant and so current because there are
so many concerns that we have today in the world. – I hope that the Me Too
movement is just the beginning. It’s not just about
sexual harassment. It’s about equal pay for women. It’s about equal
service for women. They say, “Well, what is
a feminist?” Well, look. A feminist is number one,
somebody who stands up for women’s reproductive rights, stand up for gay rights,
stand up for immigrants, stand up for labor unions,
stand up for our environment. This is what a feminist is. And so, the men can
also be feminists. – I hope that a lot of
students here at Valley and throughout the area
will be inspired by her, to see whattheycan
do in their lives if they just pay attention
to what she’s done. And, if they keep
the persistence that Dolores has demonstrated
now for so, so many decades. – I think, sometimes, that people think that
movements just happen. And maybe in today’s
world with the internet and with devices that you can
bring people together fast. As we have seen with the
Black Lives Matter movement, with the Me Too movement
with the DACA students, that you can get
information out there and people are kind of
on the same “wavelength”, you might say. But, in order for movements
to be sustainable I think you’ve got to
build organization. And, when you think about
the United Farm Workers, we actually organized for
three years before the strike! So, when the farm workers
came out on strike, it wasn’t spontaneous, like
Cesar walked through the field and workers came out
on strike. No. We organized workers
in their homes, having house meetings with them. And so, many of the workers
that came out on strike, especially the leadership,
they were already organizing what we were about. When we talk about
working people, we have to talk
about labor unions. And you hear the news media and
you hear these corporations, and they talk about,
“Well, labor unions, “they call big labor.
It’s a special interest.” How can you be a special
interest when the majority of the people in the United
States are working people? So, the strike didn’t end up with just getting an
increase in wages. Farm workers were, then, getting
only like 50 cents an hour. We went for
collective bargaining for the right to organize. And so, that was
much more permanent than just getting a
little wage increase. We had to have a contract with
conditions in the contract that if workers were fired,
we could take the employers to court, to arbitration,
to get them back their jobs. And to be able to get
a medical plan for them and a pension plan for them. So, it was not just
about the wages but getting the benefits
and getting representation in the workforce,
in the workplace. – The Farm Workers’
Union developed and the two people
who founded it were Cesar Chavez, whom
almost everybody knows, and Dolores Huerta, who was
fully equal in organizing and creating the union. But Dolores never really
was recognized as much, and many students today
don’t even know who she is. She’s an extraordinary
individual who has always been trying
to bring young people into positions of
responsibility and influence. – I think we do have a
solution to the issues that we’re facing, and that
is our educational system. Because we have the structure, but we just have to change
the content of what we teach. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
said during World War II, “We will not take one
dime out of our schools, “or one dime out
of our libraries “because education is the
foundation of our democracy.” I do believe that the
reason racism exists in our country, and misogyny,
and homophobia, and bigotry, lack of science is because in our
educational systems, from the time that our
children are in kindergarten, we do not teach what the
contributions have been of people of color. Native Americans who
were the first slaves, whose land we sit on,
yet we never thanked them or compensated them
for the land. The African slaves that
built the White House and the Congress. That
isn’t in our school books. The Mexicans that came in here, and not only tilled our fields,
built our railroads, the Chinese, the
Japanese, Filipinos, people from India
that were brought in to build the infrastructure of
our United States of America. And, we have to teach
that in our school books. If not, we’re never
gonna end the racism and our children of color
will never get the dignity that they deserve for
what their people did to build the country. And our Anglo children,
we can prevent them from having the poison
of white supremacy and white privilege. We can make that happen, but it’s got to be
done through education. – I think, ultimately, it’s the whole
community’s responsibility to make sure that people
of color are educated about their history and
about what’s possible. And teachers, at every level,
from the kindergarten, the Pre-K, all the way
up to the professors and the highest you can go, educate yourself
about the people that you’re gonna be teaching. I think that’s the
respectful thing to do. – (laughing) My students! (shouting/cheering) – Professors can
motivate students. They can encourage
students to get involved and, aside from doing a
good job and writing papers, how are you gonna really
be able to implement or put it into practice? – You know, being able
to see the contributions that people of color
have made to America and to the world, you know,
that changes the game for a young person because if
you’re not talkin’ about me, then I’m tunin’ out. If you want me to
be something great then you have to show me
something great. – To watch a woman
like her just rise to the notoriety that she has and work so hard
for other people, is, like I wanted to be that
even though I was an immigrant. And, she gave me hope that,
despite my immigration status, that there were things I
could do for other people that would make me and a little piece of
my world a better place. – Student involvement, community
involvement is crucial. It’s absolutely key. We are the majority,
but if people stay home and they don’t vote,
then we lose. We’ve got to be
politically savvy. When I saw the movie, The Lotus, I kind of reflected
back on my own life. And there’s one
scene in the movie where they show Cesar Chavez,
and Larry Itliong, and then all these men. And
they’re signing the contracts that we finally won after
this big, huge boycott when we got 17 million Americans
to stop eating grapes. I’m not in that picture. Now, I did the boycott. Okay? I negotiated the contracts
with all these growers but I’m not in the picture. I’ll tell you why. Because when we
were sitting down, after getting ready to
sign those contracts, Brother Larry Itliong
came up to me and he said, “Dolores, do you mind
if I have your seat?” I was sitting next to Cesar. And I said, “Oh. Of course,
Larry,” and I got up and walked away. Women, don’t ever do that!
(laughing) (crowd cheering) – I just appreciate the
candor that she brings to the female perspective,
especially as a woman of color, because it’s not always
heard in the media and definitely not
in the public. – Women are sorely
needed in our society and not just as mothers,
and wives, and sisters but we need women as leaders. Because we, as women, we
have a different intuition. We think differently
and if there’s somewhere that you feel that you should
be, you put yourself there. Because remember this, a woman’s place is not
only where shewantsto be, but a woman’s place is
where sheneedsto be. And if somehow you’re
not in that space where your voice is needed,
you step into that space. You don’t have to
wait to be invited. – A woman who didn’t wait
for an invitation to change history
was Rosa Parks. Parks has been revered as one
of the most influential people of the 20th century. She was born in my home
state of Alabama in 1913. Exposed to segregation
at an early age, Rosa walked to elementary school since black children were
not allowed on the bus. At 19, she met Raymond Parks, a member of the
Montgomery NAACP. The two were married and
she joined the organization as a youth leader
and a secretary. On December 1, 1955, after
her shift as a seamstress in a store, Parks refused to
obey the bus driver’s order to relinquish her seat
in the Colored Section to a white passenger.
Following her arrest, Parks called NAACP
President, E.D. Nixon. Within hours, the Women’s
Political Council, a group created to address issues for
black bus patrons, took charge. Black community leaders
organized a non-violent bus boycott that
lasted 381 days. A young Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was appointed spokesperson
and the boycott continued for more than a year. In June, the Federal
District Court ruled that the city’s segregation
policies were unconstitutional and that was upheld by the
Supreme Court in November. Montgomery announced its
compliance the next month, a year after the protests began. Although Rosa Parks wasn’t
the first black person to refuse giving up a seat, her quiet bravery
inspired a unified front and played a pivotal role
in the freedom movement. She received numerous honors, including the Medal of Freedom
like Dolores Huerta, and the Congressional
Gold Medal of Honor. Parks passed away at
the age of 92 in 2005. On February 27, 2013,
Congress dedicated a statue to Rosa Parks in the
United States Capitol approximately 100 years
after her birth. – That is why this statue
belongs in this hall. – And she has other such
tributes around the country, but the newest was unveiled
in San Bernardino, California during February of 2018. – What a beautiful day to
commemorate the unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue here
in downtown San Bernardino. (crowd cheering) – I think what’s
important to remember is that just as Rosa Parks
was a symbol of resistance, she was a symbol of courage,
symbol of perseverance. San Bernardino has been
through a whole lot, and San Bernardino is the
picture of resistance, and perseverance and courage. And I would love for that
always to be something that we look at. San Bernardino stands strong, but before San Bernardino
stood
strong, Rosa Parkssatstrong! – Calling on our Mother Rosa, could she speak to us
of courage and equality? Would we be so moved
as to move she? Would we? Can we try that right now? Let’s all stand. Some
of us are on our feet! Some of us are in our chair.
If you can stand, stand. Let’s sing together,
“We Shall Overcome.” Let’s see if we can
call on our Mother Rosa. You remember! You’ve
seen the movies. Arms intertwined, interlocked
through the air with a sway. Come on! Sway for Mother Rosa. ♪ We shall overcome ♪ Come on now! ♪ We shall overcome ♪ – One of the things
that I learned was that she really fought
for human rights. And, to see a lot of
people coming together, doesn’t matter what the
race, to celebrate her, it really proves how much
she has unified the nation just in her spirit alone. Everyone justlovedher
and I understand why. – I think that, when we study
the history of Rosa Parks, there’s so much. The fact that she is part Native American is
extremely important. The fact that she is a woman
is extremely important. The fact that she was from
Alabama is extremely important. All of these factors, each one of us is going
to take a part of that and we’ll identify with that. And here was a hero, a shero, who stood up for something
that was so important. And, what she fought
for wasn’t just for the African American. It was for all of us,
quite frankly. And it’s something that we all, something that we all
need to live up to. – But, you know, Rosa Parks
was not just by herself. The whole boycott that she
participated in was a plan, and they had made this plan at the Highlands Center
in Tennessee. So they already knew what
they were going to do because that was a
strategic plan that they made ahead of time. (somber music) – [Presenter] One, two, three. (crowd cheering) – Oh, I’m proud and
humbled to be able to do an icon like Rosa Parks. What I was thinking when
I sculpted it is that she’s a hero, a heroine, I
guess. And, that that’s what the world needs is more
people who lead by example. And hopefully that that’s
what they can take away from, is that they can go out and do good deeds
amongst the community. It’s kind of bittersweet
because my mother passed away and she modeled for the statue. She sat in my studio and we talked about the
Civil Rights movement and what she was
doing at that time. And the glasses that are on
Rosa Parks were my mother’s. They’re molded and bronzed. – As society starts to get
farther and farther away from the Civil Rights Movement, they tend to forget
the importance of it. Especially now, with the
importance of making sure that everyone is treated the way that they should be treated. And, when you look at
a statue of Rosa Parks, it brings back everything
that she stood for and everything that
we should stand for and continue to fight for. – Parks’ singular act
of disobedience launched a movement. The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of
Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it
had once been blind. ♪ We shall overcome ♪ ♪ Some day ♪ – Rosa Parks said in her
autobiography, My Story, that is isn’t true
she gave up her seat because of being tired
at the end of a work day. What was the real story? She was tired of giving in. Parks lost her job
during the bus boycott and had a challenging
time finding work. In 1957, Rosa Parks
and her husband moved to Detroit, Michigan
where she served on the staff of U.S.
Representative, John Conyers. A few years later, a future
civil rights icon would move from that very city in 1962, to make her mark in
San Bernardino, California which is also home to
the Empire Network-PBS. Frances Grice discovered
that San Bernardino schools were segregated by
race and not equal. In response, she helped co-found the Community League of Mothers,
a grassroots coalition that spoke for African Americans and fought to end that policy
in San Bernardino schools. With the help of
the NAACP, in 1973, the California
Supreme Court ruled that the school district was
guilty of discrimination, thereby ending segregation
in San Bernardino schools. Grice also founded
Operation Second Chance, a technical school that
trained thousands of low-income youth,
welfare recipients and workers displaced
by plant closure. She was bestowed
numerous honors, including the Presidential Award from both Presidents
Reagan and Bush in the White House Rose Garden. Grice mentored dozens
of community leaders across the Inland
Empire until her death on New Year’s Eve 2017,
at the age of 84. – Frances always was, Frances was an icon
in this community. – Well, everybody met Frances
when Frances came to town. I mean, she came from the
Motown town, you know? She came right in,
like dynamite. She started going to
all the organizations. She started talking
about where she was from and some of the things
that she wanted to do, and so she got
involved right away. – I met Frances Grice
through Keith Lee. Keith Lee was the County
Administrative Officer over economic development. And he was a student of Frances’
Operation Second Chance. He looked at what I was doing
with Youth Action Project. hH said, “You need to meet this
woman named Frances Grice.” Went over to her office
off of Hospitality Lane and it was history ever since. – Dorothy Height wrote a
grant in the early ’80s through the National
Council of Negro Women, so I became the director of
the one in San Bernardino. So my first day of
getting the contract, here I was with the
contract in my hand and didn’t know what to do.
Well, Frances had already been there
and done that. Right? And so, I was lookin’ for
a place to have an office and I went to this
building downtown. And she sent her staff, she
sent two or three other people to talk to the owner to
make sure I got an office. She gave me my first
set of furniture. She gave me reams of paper. That was just the
kind of person she was. – When I came to live in San
Bernardino proper in the 1980s, that’s when I would have
seen this beautiful woman with the stark, green eyes, who had a presence about herself and spoke very comfortably
and was not afraid to speak her mind
about anything. That’s when I probably
in my brain said,“Thatis the lady that I
have been hearing about “all of these years.” – They don’t know we
had to dodge bullets. They don’t know that
the Ku Klux Klan was walkin’ down E Street. They don’t know that
Harry Rubottom had to sue Bing’s to get in the
restaurant to eat Chinese food. They don’t know
all the conditions that we had to go through.
They don’t know that our children had to
develop a program to run into a room- that we
said, if they started a riot, we have to tell our kids, “Run in a room and lock
the door, and stay there.” – When she came to
San Bernardino, she just heard the
voices of the mothers that really felt like their
kids weren’t getting the best. And so, she just felt like
she was gonna do something about it and so she
organized a group of mothers and then they eventually
became the League of Mothers. – While she was doing this
fight for integration, there was some
negotiations going on between the school
district and the community. One of the issues was busing. They had taken the buses
away from the children who lived on the
west side of town. So, if they wanted to go
to school across town, they had to walk. The League of Mothers gave
them holy hell over it and as a result, the district gave back
the busing opportunity. – So Frances’ involvement
in desegregation was because she wanted to make
sure that all kids had access to a quality education. – She knew African American
young people needed to be trained. She knew that
there was funding available and I think that
was her whole drive to start that training program. – My sister found
that being a part of Operation Second
Chance equipped her with a particular skill that would help her
in her adult life. – When I was an assembly
member I was in Sacramento, and here’s this young man
walkin’ in to my office. And he was president of
the NAACP in Stockton, and he was workin’ for this
big company and all that. And I said, “Don’t I know
you from somewhere?” And he said, “Oh, yeah. You
remember me in San Bernardino. “I went to Frances’
training program.” So anywhere you went,
pretty much, you could run into
somebody who was successful who had been from San Bernardino and had gone through
Frances’ program. – She has a great deal
of responsibility for me being in the
positions I am today just because of her
advice, her direction and the ideas that
she shared with me. – We owea lotto Frances Grice. For that visionary
thinking that she had, and honoring that
visionary thinking. – She could pick up on
what needed to be done and go ahead and start doing it. – When she talked to you,
it was like she was talking to your soul.
Like literally, she could motivate you. She could make you
want to fall out on the ground because
you’re not doin’ enough. And then, pick you back up and put you all
back together again and help you get the
direction that you needed. – She was an amazing,
amazing person. And she won’t soon be forgotten. – Continue to speak,
continue to defend, continue to work
in the community. That would be the
greatest legacy that she could have. – Every day that I wake up
is an opportunity for me to do better than I
did the day before. And I think that is the
message to young people and we use Frances as a model. If we aspire to be the best selves, then I don’t think there’s
anything that we can’t do. – We are women of
faith and that faith energizes us to move
those mountains. – And right now, nobody in
this community remembers, nobody even remembers a
Frances Grice sometimes. Very few people are here now that was here
in the ’60s and the ’70s, so they don’t know
the struggle we had. – Frances, much like
Rosa and Dolores, was placed in a situation
where she had to make a choice. – Accept the problem,
or take it on. – It can be argued that if
Rosa hadn’t given up her seat, or if Dolores had
never led a protest, or if Frances had allowed
schools to remain segregated, the world would be a
very different place. Thankfully, they didn’t. – [Iris] Their legacies
reveal the personal power that we all possess
to make a difference. – [Jessica] And thus,
are true role models for courage in the
face of injustice. – We hope that you’ve been
both inspired and enlightened. For the Empire Network-PBS,
I’m Iris Hill. – And I’m Jessica Greenwell.
Thanks for watching. (uplifting music) ♪ ♪

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