Larry Itliong and the Great Delano Grape Strike
When I moved to America I was a sophomore and one of the first classes I took in high school was US history. My teacher was weird. We had what he called open book tests so we didn't really have to study and he played movies during those tests. One time I think it was pirates of the Caribbean. This teaching style was so different than what I was used to back home. But that wasn't what struck me the most. It's that when we got to the part of American history set in the Philippines there was just one paragraph in our history book less than half a page dedicated to this period of American imperialism. I think that paragraph mentioned Emilio Aguinaldo who became the first president of the Philippines and the acquisition of the Philippines by the US from Spain in eighteen ninety eight. Let's it nothing in those pages talked about the bloody Philippine American war. There was no mention of the American occupation that took place for almost half a century in definitely didn't talk about Filipinos who came to America during this time not as immigrants but as nationals subjects of American empire the generation of monotones who are promised with the riches of the American dream. But who face the harsh realities of American life instead? I mean when we think about the history of the United States we say oh Boston. The Boston Tea Party. We all learn. It is White America. That's Gail Roma Santa. A writer and publisher who is the CO author of journey for Justice? A new book the chairs the story of a Filipino American labor organizer and Community Leader Left. Outta most American history textbooks the tough-talking man with a moustache glasses and sometimes cigar. Larry Leon. He was an is a Filipino. American leader who united Filipino Americans and other ethnicities Gayle Co wrote for justice with her friend. The late professor and historian Don Shula. Noma Balan- you might remember her from episodes one and two of this podcast. They both grew up in Stockton California and they didn't learn about their cities rich Filipino history until they went away to college. It's why they wrote the book. This book needs to be in schools and in libraries in the hands of our families and our caregivers so that they can say oh. I was part of American history. Obviously I didn't learn about Larry Leong in high school. I don't think I even heard about him in college. And I took Asian American studies yet. Too many Larry. It long is a Filipino. American civil rights hero a leader in that first generation of Filipinos in America and even in the diaspora he led the Delano grape strike. And people don't really know what that means and that really is a point where we had so many Filipinos and their jobs were jeopardy and they had so much to lose. Nobody had health insurance major resources. They didn't have any political clout. They were migrant farm workers on this episode chapter in American history. We should learn about in school. The story of Larry Leon and the great Delano grape strike pivotal moment in the American farm worker movement. Most people have heard that Mexican American labor leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores. Horta were a big part of this not a lot of folks know that it was Larry it Leong and the Filipino farmworkers. Who Kick started the whole thing in the first place?