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May 7, 2013 > Mural to memorialize farm workers' struggle

Mural to memorialize farm workers' struggle

Submitted By Julius Willis

The Center for Filipino Studies at CSU East Bay (CFS-CSUEB), in collaboration with the Filipino Memorial Project (FMP) and the Asian-Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), has commissioned the creation of a mural depicting the historic 1960s struggle of Filipino-American farm workers in California for fair wages and decent working conditions. The project was formally announced at a fundraiser dinner on Sunday, April 28.

The CFS-FMP mural will spotlight key historical figures, including Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, Andy Amutan, Ben Gines, Pete Velasco, Cesar Chavez, and Dolores Huerta. The mural will create a strong sense of inclusiveness, allow for civic engagement, foster greater cooperation between communities and spread public awareness. Designed and artistically directed by a collective of local Filipino American artists, the mural will be produced with the help of young Filipino Americans from schools across the Bay Area.

The unveiling of the 12' x 4' canvas mural will take place in October, during Filipino American History Month to celebrate meaningful historical art and create conversation around stories of struggle, survival, and labor. It is anticipated that with exposure and success, the mural will become an important force for dialogue and community building throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

The effort to organize Filipino American labor unions started in the early 1900s. The CFS-FMP mural will depict the Delano Grape Strike in 1965, when more than 1,500 farm workers walked off the grape fields in Delano, California, demanding fair wages and benefits. The Agricultural Workers Organization Committee (AWOK), a Filipino union led by Larry Itliong, formed an alliance with the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led by Mexican farm worker organizers Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The union of these organizations strengthened their struggle for just compensation, ultimately becoming a foundation for union labor organizing. With passion and persistence, Filipinos won their fight for increased wages, better working conditions, medical benefits, and the establishment of the Pablo Agbayani Village (a retirement community for Delano farm workers).

The Center for Filipino Studies (CFS) aims to study, document, and promote the heritage and culture of transnational Filipinos, through college curriculum, research and publication, exchange programs, scholarships, and seminars in cooperation with the California State University East Bay. To learn more, visit http://class.csueastbay.edu/filipinostudies/index.html.

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