Governor Signs Bonta’s Filipino American Farm Worker Bill, AB 123

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

State Board of Education Required to Provide State Curriculum on the Significant Role of Filipino Americans in the California Farm Labor Movement

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is proud to announce that Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 123 today – a first-of-its-kind bill to require the state curriculum to include the contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement in California.  Bonta notes that Governor Brown’s signature of the bill is the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of Filipino American History Month, this October.

“The goal of AB 123 is to supplement California’s rich farm worker history with the contributions of the Filipino American community. The Filipino American population composes the largest Asian population in California and continues to grow; yet the story of Filipinos and their crucial efforts to the farm labor movement is an untold part of California history,” explained Assemblymember Bonta.

“The historical significance of vastly influential leaders, such as César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, are rightfully synonymous with California’s farm labor movement. Generations of people who follow their stories have benefited from their commitment to social and economic justice in innumerable ways. Missing from the current curriculum are events such as the Delano Grape Strike of 1965, which was led by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), comprised of first generation Filipinos. A week following this strike, the National Farm Workers Association, led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, combined forces with AWOC and by the fall of 1966, the numbers grew to approximately 2,000---almost entirely Filipino and Mexican workers, joined together in a powerful collaborative movement. The combined forces grew the movement to approximately 10,000 by 1970.

“By signing AB 123, Governor Brown has made an unprecedented move to give students a more complete account of California’s farm labor movement and ensure that these important leaders, such as Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong are remembered by future generations of Californians,” explained Bonta.

Dolores Huerta, an iconic social justice and labor rights activist, spoke in support of the bill in committee: “The students of California need to learn that the sacrifices made by both the Filipino and Latino workers benefitted all Californians. AB 123 will ensure that the history is taught accurately.”  

The bill is particularly important to Assemblymember Bonta because of his personal heritage and history. Bonta was raised as a child in La Paz, the United Farm Workers’ headquarters, where his parents organized Filipino American and Mexican American farm workers. Also, as the first Filipino American elected to the California State Assembly and the Godson of José Gomez, Executive Assistant to César Chávez, Bonta is committed to the cause of farm workers and ensuring that the legacy of the farm workers is properly taught to the children of California.

Bonta concluded, “I am proud that Governor Brown recognizes the contributions of Filipinos to the history of our state and country by signing AB 123 and including them in the history and social sciences curriculum taught in California schools.”

Supporters of AB 123 include: Dolores Huerta (Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers of America), Tita Alice Bulos (“grandmother” of Filipino American politics), United Farm Workers of America, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Boards Association, Afrikan Student Union at UCLA, Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen, Alameda Education Association, Alyansa Ng Mga Kababayan, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, American Indian Student Association at UCLA, Anakbayan East Bay, Anakbayan Los Angeles, Anakbayan San Diego, Anakbayan Seattle, Anakbayan Silicon Valley, Asian Americans for Advancing Justice, Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality, Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA, Barkada of Santa Clara University, Belmont High School Club Asian Sentinels Integration & Awareness, California Immigrant Policy Center, Cesar E. Chavez High School Principal Ben De León, City of Berkeley, City of Carson Mayor Jim Dear, Cosmopolitan United Church, Consulate General of the Philippines in San Francisco, Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Filipina Women’s Network, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Filipino American Democratic Club of San Francisco, Filipino-American Educator Association of California, Filipino American Educators Association of San Diego County, Filipino Barkada, Filipino Fiesta of Sacramento, Filipino Memorial Project, Filipino Migrant Center, Filipinos Unifying Scientist-Engineers in an Organized Network, Kababayan at UC Irvine, Kabataang Maka Bayan, Katipunan Pilipino Student Organization, KAYA Filipino Americans for Progress, Laya Migrant Youth for Change and Action, Manilatown Heritage Foundation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Muslim Students Association at UCLA, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, The People’s Education Movement, Philippine National Day Association, Pilipino American Coalition, California State University, Long Beach, Pilipino American Society for Education, Pilipino-Americans in Social Studies at the University of California, Irvine, Pilipino Pre-Health Undergraduate Student Organization, Samahang Pilipino at UCLA, University of the Philippines Alumni Association Sacramento & Vicinity, Vietnamese Student Union at UCLA, and over two thousand individuals. 

Contact: Legislative Director Amy Alley 916-319-2018