Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta has earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom despite being alive, the White House announced last week.
Huerta will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor at a ceremony later this year along with the still-living astronaut John Glenn, still-breathing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, still-has-a-pulse musician Bob Dylan, still-walking-the-earth former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, and others.
Not long ago, in Texas, Huerta had a tougher time getting recognition at the State Board of Education. During the social studies standards debacle of 2010, some members of the far-right bloc on the state board argued that Huerta should not be included in the history standards because she is not an example of good citizenship and because — you guessed it — she is still alive.
Said board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, at the time:
And then I’ve got another criteria that I use. I am very reluctant to include persons who are still alive. By definition of history you should be dead, because you never know when you might embarrass us later.
Two years later we still can’t find Bradley’s definition of history in a dictionary.
The living vs. dead argument is just one of the requirements for inclusion some board members came up with on the fly, an all too common practice for a board with a track record of picking and choosing what it likes on a whim, without input from experts or teachers, and often at the last minute before making important decisions.
So Huerta can now add Medal of Freedom recipient to her resume. Not that it will matter at the state board, because this is Texas and she’s still alive.
You can watch the 2010 exchange on Huerta below: