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Filipino American Grape Strikers, Overshadowed but not Forgotten

Delano Grape Strike

Quite an amazing event this weekend commemorating the Filipino American farm workers whose activism lead to the historic Delano Grape Strike 50 years ago.

Among those attending was Lorraine Agtang, who was 13 at the time, and one of the few strikers still alive today.

“It was midmorning when picketers showed up where we were picking grapes for Giumarra growers and my dad, Platon Agtang, said there’s a strike and we should leave.” recalls Agtang to the Sacramento Bee.

One of the highlights of the commemoration was a tour on all the historical spots significant to that strike.

“I came out here to pay respect and to celebrate this incredible social movement, one of the most significant social movements in American history,” Dawn Mabalon told Bakersfield Now.

The strike started by the Filipino American Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee was joined eight days later by the National Farmworkers Association lead by Cesar Chavez. The strike not only successfully pressured farmers to sign the first contract with the workers, but it spawned the United Farm Workers.

The charismatic Chavez often got the headlines, but folks like Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong played a major role.

Agtang said at first some Mexican Americans didn’t want to join forces with Filipino Americans, but Chavez threatened to join the Filipino side and one year later, the UFW was formed.

You can read about how the strike lead to the highly successful grape boycott that spread internationally in the Sacramento Bee.

You can see the tour of some of the historic spots in a video below from Bakersfield Now.

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