The longer you live in San Francisco, the more likely you’ll encounter older white people who still refer to Cesar Chavez Street as “Army Street.” They usually insist that they’re not racist, they’ve just been here since before 1995 and thus are exempt from acknowledging the name change, plus Chavez wasn’t so great, anyway. One can only imagine their reaction had the street been renamed for Dolores Huerta, the subject of Peter Bratt’s documentary Dolores. (They’d probably keeping calling it “Army,” because there’s already a street named Dolores.)
Bratt looks at the life of Huerta, who was arguably more important in the formation of the United Farm Workers and the struggle for workers’ rights than Chavez was, but whose contributions were downplayed or ignored due to the basic sexism of 20th- (and 21st-)century America, compounded by Catholicisms’s deep misogyny. She received a burst of late-period attention when her 2006 “Republicans hate Latinos” observation made the conservative punditry rounds, resulting in a more specific and demeaning backlash than Kanye West received for “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” the year before. (Some referred to her as Chavez’s “girlfriend,” which, ugh.) It’ll probably be awhile before she gets her own street, but Dolores is an important step toward reclaiming Huerta’s place in history.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.