This September marks the 50th anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike. To commemorate this historic event, the Delano chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society will be hosting a celebration Labor Day weekend.
The weekend’s events will kick off on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at the Filipino Community Hall, the historic building where the strike vote was taken and the headquarters of the first years of the Grape Strike. The program will include Assemblyman Rob Bonta as the event’s keynote speaker as well as presentations by strike veterans, scholars, community activists, and local community leaders. Also slated is a screening of Marissa Aroy’s CAAM-funded and Emmy-nominated documentary, Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers. Aroy, whose family is from Delano, will be present for the screening.
The Delano Grape Strike began on September 8, 1965, when thousands of mostly Filipino American grape workers walked off of the vineyards in Delano. Filipino labor leader Larry Itliong Itliong, of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee union (AWOC, AFL-CIO), asked Cesar Chavez and his mostly Mexican worker’s association, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), to join the strike. On September 16, 1965, the NFWA voted to join the AWOC. In 1966, the AWOC and the NFWA merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. Cesar Chavez was named director, and Itliong served as the UFW’s assistant director from 1966-1971.The Delano Grape Strike sparked the farm labor movement of the 20th century and catalyzed the very California grape strikes that became synonymous with Cesar Chavez and his cause and that of the United Farm Workers.