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Barack Obama has chosen an honorary chair of the Democrat Socialists of America (DSA) to be the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dolores Huerta, the recipient, is also the originator of the “Yes we can” 2008 campaign slogan.
An excerpt from Obama’s speech at the ceremony:
“Similarly, when Cesar Chavez sat Dolores Huerta down at his kitchen table and told her they should start a union, she thought he was joking. She was a single mother of seven children, so she obviously didn’t have a lot of free time. But Dolores had been an elementary school teacher and remembered seeing children come to school hungry and without shoes. So in the end, she agreed — and workers everywhere are glad that she did. Without any negotiating experience, Dolores helped lead a worldwide grape boycott that forced growers to agree to some of the country’s first farm worker contracts. And ever since, she has fought to give more people a seat at the table. “Don’t wait to be invited,” she says, “Step in there.” And on a personal note, Dolores was very gracious when I told her I had stolen her slogan, “Si, se puede.” Yes, we can. (Laughter.) Knowing her, I’m pleased that she let me off easy — (laughter) — because Dolores does not play.” (Laughter.)
According to the White House, the Medal of Freedom is bestowed upon individuals who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Others awarded the medal by Obama include Madeleine Albright, John Doar, William Foege, John Glenn, Gordon Hirabayashi, Dolores Huerta, Jan Karski, Juliette Gordon Low, Toni Morrison, Shimon Peres, John Paul Stevens and Pat Summitt.
In addition to her DSA activities, Huerta, at age 82, is also a labor activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers union. The DSA describes itself as:
“…the largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International. DSA’s members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly socialist presence in American communities and politics.“
The Heritage Foundation reports that Huerta has made the accusation that, “Republicans hate Latinos,” and has embraced Hugo Chavez’s despotic regime in Venezuela. Some of her more radical comments have been captured in this audio clip.
Huerta’s radicalism has apparently not prevented her from being praised by other Obama administration officials. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has described her as being a “role model”, “teacher” and “friend.”
A Dolores Huerta Foundation also exists, which seeks to “create a network of organized communities pursuing social justice through systemic and structural transformation.”