AB 123 requires school instruction on the significant role of Filipino Americans in the California farm labor movement

bontaSACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is proud to announce that his bill to require public school instruction on the contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement in California unanimously passed the Assembly Education Committee today. AB 123 will now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and, if successful, will head to the floor for a full vote of the Assembly.

“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 Cesar Chavez 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. What is missing from the story is that the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 was led by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, comprised of first generation Filipinos. A week later, the National Farm Workers Association, led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, joined the strike 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.

“AB 123 would 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.”

Dolores Huerta, who is being inducted today into the California Hall of Fame as an iconic social justice and labor rights activist, stated that she rarely has time to testify in support of legislation, but she did not want to miss this historic opportunity to support AB 123. “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. Assemblymember 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 Jose Gomez, Executive Assistant to Cesar Chavez, 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, “It is time to recognize the contributions of Filipinos to the history of our state and country by including them in the history and social sciences curriculum taught in California schools. AB 123 is a strong step toward this goal.”

Support for the bill includes: Alameda Education Association; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; 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; California Immigrant Policy Center; California Federation of Teachers; Club Asian Sentinels Integration & Awareness, Belmont High School; Consulate General of the Philippines in San Francisco; Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County; Councilmember  Stewart Chen of Alameda; Filipina Women’s Network; Filipino Advocates for Justice; Filipino-American Educator Association of California; Filipino American Educators Association of San Diego County; Filipino Memorial Project; Filipino Migrant Center; KAYA Filipino Americans for Progress; Manilatown Heritage Foundation; Mayor of the City of Carson, Jim Dear; National Federation of Filipino American Associations; Philippine National Day Association; Pilipino American Society for Education; UCLA, Afrikan Student Union; UCLA, American Indian Student Association; UCLA, Asian Pacific Coalition; UCLA, Muslim Students Association; UCLA, Samahang Pilipino; UCLA, Vietnamese Student Union; United Farm Workers of America; University of the Philippines Alumni Association Sacramento & Vicinity.