Filipino American Contributions to the Farm Labor Movement

Approximately 20 Filipino workers cutting lettuce and loading it into wooden crates in a California lettuce field.

Overview

Filipino Americans comprise the largest Asian population within California and the third largest Asian population within the United States. In California, all students learn about Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement in their study of state and US history. What is not widely known is the important contributions of Filipino Americans to this movement. The California Legislature passed AB 123 in 2013 to place a much greater emphasis on Filipino American contributions to the farm labor movement. From the text of AB 123:

“It is important that pupils learn about the influence of Filipino Americans and their culture on the farmworker labor movement. The formation and continuing work of the farmworker labor movement have had an enormous impact on helping to stop the suppression and oppression of farmworkers and the general working public on a national scale. Unfortunately, the story of how the Filipino American labor leaders and workers helped create the farmworker labor movement has been greatly ignored by national and international media.”

Through the Content, Literacy, Inquiry, and Citizenship project, the California History-Social Science Project is creating resources for educators to address this legislation, highlighting Filipino American contributions to the farm labor movement.

Helpful Resources to Consider

Filipino Archives:

Children’s Book and Teachers Guide:

National Public Radio:

United Farm Workers:

Collage of four historical photos related to farming. Hand-written caption reads “All races serve the crops in California.”
Photograph of Larry Itliong during the Delano Grape Strikes, carrying a sign that reads “Governor Brown We Don’t Need Foreign Workers. We Need Work!! AWOC AFL CIO.”