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Dolores Huerta to Receive Radcliffe Medal for Her Impact on Society

“Every American should know her name and her decades-long work to secure the rights of farmworkers, women, and other disadvantaged people,” said Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin.

Author By Radcliffe Communications Published 02.06.2019 Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on LinkedIn Copy Link

Previous medalists include Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Nobel Prize–winning novelist Toni Morrison.

Contact: Jane F. Huber
Director of Communications

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (February 6, 2019) — Today, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University ( announced that the iconic social activist and organizer Dolores Huerta will receive the prestigious Radcliffe Medal on May 31.

Each year, during Harvard University’s Commencement week, the Radcliffe Institute awards its highest honor to an individual who embodies its commitment to excellence, inclusion, and social impact.

The Radcliffe Institute Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a legal scholar and civil rights historian, called Huerta “a towering figure in the labor, civil rights, and women’s movements.” Despite Huerta’s profound impact on social justice movements of the past half century, her name remains less recognizable than those of her male colleagues—such as Cesar Chavez, with whom she cofounded what became the United Farm Workers of America.

Brown-Nagin, who is also the Daniel P. S. Paul Professor of Law and a professor of history at Harvard, observed, “The fact that some individuals won’t immediately recognize Dolores Huerta’s name and know why we’re honoring her illustrates the all-too-common erasure of women from our histories. As a historian, I am keenly aware that Huerta and other women from traditionally marginalized groups are especially likely to be omitted from our historical narratives.”

“Every American should know her name and her decades-long work to secure the rights of farmworkers, women, and other disadvantaged people,” said Brown-Nagin.

First awarded to Lena Horne in 1987, the Radcliffe Medal counts Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Toni Morrison, Sandra Day O'Connor, Gloria Steinem, and Janet Yellen among its many distinguished recipients.

About the Radcliffe Day 2019 program

Radcliffe Day will honor Huerta’s critical work to secure the rights of marginalized people by examining the issue that first sparked her activism: the intersection of food and social justice. The day’s program will open with a panel discussion exploring the shortcomings and challenges of the US food system—as well as opportunities for positive change—through social, labor, ecological, and health policy lenses. Moderated by renowned journalist Soledad O’Brien, the panel will feature health policy expert and Harvard public health professor Sara Bleich; immigration and employment activist, lawyer, and Fordham professor of law Jennifer Gordon; writer, activist, author of the landmark Diet for a Small Planet and Food First cofounder Frances Moore Lappé; agriculture policy expert and University of California, Davis, economics professor Daniel A. Sumner; and celebrated chef and food activist Alice Waters.

The keynote session will feature remarks by Huerta, who will then engage in a wide-ranging conversation with O’Brien. The program will conclude with the formal presentation of the Radcliffe Medal by Brown-Nagin.

About the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is a unique space within Harvard—a school dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across all disciplines. Each year, the Institute hosts 50 leading scholars, scientists, and artists from around the world in its renowned residential fellowship program. Radcliffe fosters innovative research collaborations and offers hundreds of public lectures, exhibitions, performances, conferences, and other events annually. The Institute is home to the Schlesinger Library, the nation’s foremost archive on the history of women, gender, and sexuality. For more information about the people and programs of the Radcliffe Institute, visit

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