March 28, 2014
The movie, Cesar Chavez, directed by Diego Luna hits theaters nationwide today. It focuses on the early years of the United Farm Workers Union and Cesar Chavez, one of the most influential Mexican American civil rights leaders. 89.3 KPCC Southern California public radio reporter Dorian Merina reports that one largely overlooked aspect of the story of the farm workers struggle is the Filipino farm workers' pivotal role in launching the 1965 grape strike in Delano that led to the birth of the United Farm Workers Union.
For the full story by KPCC's Dorian Merina.
Journalist Leezel Tanglao, now an editor-writer based in New York City wrote about Filipinos' important contribution to the founding of the United Farm Workers in an article she wrote for The Press-Enterprise in 2005, originally published September 4, 2005 excerpted below.
Many of them died unmarried, childless and alone. And when they were buried, they took with them a labor legacy that was scratched out of the vineyards of the Coachella Valley. They were the Filipino grape pickers who 40 years ago called a strike against vineyard owners that spread north to Delano and helped spark the national farm-labor movement. "They set the stage for everything." said Paul Chavez, son of the late Cesar Chavez, founder of what became the United Farm Workers. "Nobody showed the kind of conviction these men did."
Yet their story is fading into history's background and is rarely remembered during national observances such as Labor Day. This is happening for two reasons: Labor historians focus on the larger and later strike led by Chavez that lasted five years and captured national headlines.