Bonta Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 this week on the floor of the Assembly, describing the critical collaboration between Filipino and Latino farm workers and leaders during the genesis of the California farm labor movement.

“Fifty years ago, on the evening of September 7th, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), led by Filipino leaders Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz and others, met in the Filipino Community Hall in Delano, California, to make the brave decision to strike for improved wages and working conditions,” Bonta explained.  “AWOC successfully invited the mostly Latino farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, to join the strike---ushering in one of the most significant events and collaborations in California history, launching the California farm labor movement, and leading to the creation of the now world-renowned United Farm Workers of America, and ending decisively, growers’ historical attempts to pit them against each other.”

As the first and only Filipino American elected to the California State Assembly in the history of the state, Bonta is committed to accurately reflecting the Filipino American experience in California history. One of his first acts as an Assemblymember was to introduce AB 123 to provide students with a more complete account of the Filipino American contributions to California's farm labor movement. And this year, Bonta authored AB 7 to establish a state day of recognition for Larry Itliong every October 25, commemorating the date of his birth.

“With the enactment of AB 7 and AB 123, the contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement will become a more commonly known part of California’s rich and vibrant collective history. A central piece to that story is the pivotal role Filipinos played in sparking the Delano Grape Strike of 1965. Larry Itliong played a critical role on that transformative evening 50 years ago. And his subsequent collaboration with Latino leaders, including Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, demonstrated his visionary leadership in understanding the importance of uniting behind shared goals and refusing to be divided.”

Bonta concluded, “It is my hope that all of us working together in this house will be informed by the brave vote those individuals took 50 years ago. The unprecedented collaboration that was forged during the Delano strike of groups that had been historically divided was critical to its success and it is that commitment to collaboration and progressive change that is essential to our ongoing pursuit of racial, social, and economic justice for all.”