Organized-labor activist Dolores Huerta issued a call to activism at Duke Chapel during the university's annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration.
Huerta, who is a cofounder of the United Farm Workers of America, interspersed her talk with a mix of civil rights history, activist politics, and humor. She emphasized the importance of labor unions in not only empowering and educating the working poor, but also as a means of economic justice.
"Dr. King understood the importance of labor unions," Huerta said. "Many told him not to go to Memphis to march with the garbage workers. But he had an understanding that underneath it all—the discrimination and social inequities—was a need for economic justice."
Huerta also made some pointed political remarks, criticizing right-wing radio hosts and bank bonuses, and she advocated for the election of more women to public office.
Other events during the commemoration included a performance by the African Children's Choir, a performance group that travels the world raising awareness of poverty in Africa and Rabbi Alysa Stanton, the first African-American woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the U.S. Stanton presented a monologue called Layers of Healing, Layers of Hope at an event hosted by a number of campus and student organizations.