Monday Event | California State University Monterey Bay

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By Sophia Huang McKenzie

Civil rights icon Dolores Huerta led the vocals for “Viva, Bill Monning! Cheers!” at a CSUMB event honoring the former California Senate Majority Leader and celebrating the addition of his archival materials to the University Library.

“The thing about Bill Monning is his passion for justice is so strong that he doesn’t give up,” Huerta said during the March 18 event at the Tanimura and Antle Family Memorial Library.

“He always had the vision, the foresight and the commitment. He has always worked for the poorest people who needed a voice.

“When he was there in the legislature, you always knew you had a friend, that he was always accessible. … And he gave you his word, and he helped you, and he gave you the advice you needed. I wish that somehow we could clone Bill Monning,” she added, to laughter and applause.

Many political dignitaries and community leaders – including Sens. Anna Caballero and John Laird; Susie Brusa, District Manager for US Representative Jimmy Panetta; and Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby was among some 150 attendees, in addition to many local and regional officials.

Monning praised Huerta, whom he first met as a young lawyer working for United Farm Workers, the union Huerta and Cesar Chavez co-founded in 1962. Monning helped the UFW organize strikes and representational elections and has worked with farmworker clients statewide. .

Huerta is known around the world for the rallying cry “Si, se puede” or “Yes, it can be done,” Monning said. “What Dolores represents is that with ‘Si, se puede’ comes a commitment to persevere, a commitment to work, a commitment to organize. We’ve hit brick walls along the way, we’ve had losses, we’ve had defeats, but Dolores is someone who inspires us in these difficult times.

As for his archival documents, Monning said they were “very meaningful” to him because they reflect the collective and collaborative effort of the organizers and “people who advocated, people who did not take ‘no. “for an answer”.

Archives become important when the next generation can learn from them and find inspiration and instruction in the history and actions of people like Huerta.

“We have to learn how to pass on, not the legacy in terms of honoring people, but the skills to move from a vision, from a dream, to making something happen in legislation, in law. And then, once the governor has signed it into law, the job is not done. Then you have to work to make sure the new law [is] forced. And all of that is people power and commitment.

Monning’s tenure in the state legislature included four years in the state assembly from 2008 to 2012 and eight years in the senate, including four as majority leader. He represented District 17 encompassing the Central Coast and was a strong advocate for public health, education, labor rights and the environment.

Huerta received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 for his lifetime of civil rights achievements. Since 2015, she has been a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, secretary-treasurer emeritus of UFW of America, and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

CSUMB Library strives to serve the entire community by valuing social justice and promoting active service and civic engagement. To celebrate the addition of Senator Bill Monning’s library archival collection and to honor his career and service, the library aims to raise $50,000 in philanthropic donations to support its priorities. As of March 25, the fundraising effort was about halfway to its goal. To contribute online, go to donate.csumb.edu/monning.

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