Dolores Huerta honors Bill Monning at CSUMB library archives event

Monning, Huerta and Ochoa in front of CSUMB backdrop

Sen. Bill Monning, activist Dolores Huerta, and CSUMB President Eduardo M. Ochoa | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

March 25, 2022

By Sophia Huang McKenzie

Civil rights icon Dolores Huerta led chants of “Viva, Bill Monning! Viva!” at a CSUMB event honoring the former California senate majority leader and celebrating the addition of his archival papers to the university library.

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

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

"When he was there in the legislature, you always knew that 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 that you needed. I wish that somehow we could clone Bill Monning,” she added, prompting laughter and applause. 

Numerous political dignitaries and community leaders — including state Sens. Anna Caballero and John Laird; Susie Brusa, district director for U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta; and Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby — were among the about 150 attendees, in addition to many local and regional civil servants. 

Monning praised Huerta, whom he first met as a young attorney working for the United Farm Workers, the labor union co-founded by Huerta and Cesar Chavez in 1962. Monning helped the UFW organize strikes and representation elections and worked with farmworker clients throughout the state.  

Huerta is known worldwide 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 persistence, a commitment to working, a commitment to organizing. We hit brick walls along the way, we had losses, we had defeats, but Dolores is a person who gives us inspiration in these tough times.”

As for his archival papers, Monning said they are “very meaningful” to him because they reflect the collective and collaborative effort of organizers and “people who advocated, people who didn't 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 need to learn how to pass on, not the legacy in terms of just honoring people, but the skills of how you move from a vision, a dream, to actualizing something in legislation, in law. And then, once the governor signs it into law, the work’s not over. Then you have to work to make sure that new law [is] enforced. 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 the 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 her lifetime of civil rights achievements. Since 2015 she has served as a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the secretary-treasurer emeritus of the UFW of America, and the president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

The CSUMB library strives to serve the greater community by valuing social justice and promoting active service and civic engagement. To celebrate the addition of the Sen. Bill Monning Library Archive Collection and to honor his career and service, the library aims to raise $50,000 in philanthropic gifts to support its priorities. As of March 25, the fundraising effort was approximately halfway to its goal. To contribute online, please go to