The farm labor in movement in California during the 1960s was more diverse than many realize. Among the leaders was a Filipino-American named Larry Itliong. Under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Oct. 25 will now be observed as Larry Itliong Day.
Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who introduced the bill, says it’s important for young people in California to understand the contributions of Filipino-Americans to the state. He says it's a narrative that's often not told in history books.
"History was changed, but those stories weren’t being told in the history books, weren’t being captured, and it was important to me for that to change especially in the most diverse state in the country," says Bonta.
Itliong was instrumental in sparking the Delano Grape Strike of 1965, where 1,500 Filipino laborers demanded better pay and working conditions from growers. Itliong reached out to Cesar Chavez, who at the time was a leader of another labor group.
The two joined forces, creating the United Farm Workers Of America, and launched a series of boycotts and marches that eventually led to agreements for better wages and protections of farm workers in the 1970s.
The special designation for Oct. 25 encourages public schools and educational institutions to honor Itliong. On that day, which is Itliong's birthday, students will participate in lessons and activities that will teach them about Itliong and his achievements, says Bonta.
Itliong later broke away from UFW but continued his work of advocating for Filipino farm laborers. He died in 1977.
According to Bonta, there are seven other specially designated days in California including John Muir Day on April 21, Harvey Milk Day on May 22 and Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on Jan. 30.