Activists Wanted To March On LA Streets Named For Women Leaders. There Were Few Choices
Dolores Huerta, one of the most influential Chicano civil rights and labor leaders, could get a street renamed after her in Los Angeles this year.
The Women’s March Foundation, which grew out of the nationwide protests following the election of President Donald J. Trump in 2017 and which organized subsequent marches in L.A., has launched an effort to rename streets across the country after prominent women.
Emiliana Guereca, the foundation’s founder and president, says the idea for the Feminist Street Initiative was born out of the movements’ presence on the streets.
“We were looking for streets to march that were named after women in Los Angeles, and there were very few, if any,” she said.
That led them to look deeper into women’s representation in naming. They found that less than 2% of streets across the country were named after women, according to Guereca.
“We're looking for, really to solidify a place for women and equity,” she said. “It's almost as if we don’t exist, as if we aren't part of history. So we aim to change that.”
Guereca says they’re hoping to rename First Street to Dolores Huerta, but they at least want a road that intersects with Cesar E Chavez Avenue, which was renamed after the Chicano activist Huerta worked with. They’re in the process of working with the city and Huerta’s foundation to get this done before the close of 2022.
The effort builds on the recognition Huerta received with Dolores Huerta Square in Boyle Heights in 2019.
Huerta’s efforts have paved the way for labor rights. She helped lead the Delano Strike in 1965 for grape farmworkers and was frequently involved with contract negotiations. She worked with César Chávez to organize farmworkers in the United States by founding the National Farm Workers Association, the predecessor of the United Farm Workers union.
Guereca’s foundation has more streets in the works. She’s interested in working with the Biddy Mason Foundation to rename a street that recognizes Mason’s impact as a formerly enslaved woman who was one of L.A.’s wealthiest philanthropists in the 1800s.
Guereca encourages people to send in suggestions for more women to highlight, which you can do online.
They’ve had dozens of requests, including for Lisa Moreno, a labor activist in the mid-1900s, and Judy Baca, a Chicano studies expert at UCLA and artist. Baca created the mural “Great Wall of Los Angeles” in the San Fernando Valley, which pays tribute to Moreno’s story.
The foundation wants to place more than the six streets planned so far nationally. Brooklyn could have one for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There's one for author bell hooks in Hopkinsville, Ky. Guereca says they're working with city governments to cut through the red tape.
“Hopefully for us, this is what our trajectory looks like: from taking to the streets to renaming streets,” Guereca said. “I want to be 90 and know that we have a lot of streets named after historical women.”