Filipino American labor hero Larry Itliong inducted into California Hall of Fame

Larry Itliong california hall of fame

Filipino American Labor leader Larry Itliong was among the individuals posthumously honored in the 14th class of the California Hall of Fame.

The honoree: On Oct. 12, activist Larry Itliong was inducted into the state Hall of Fame for his leadership in civil rights and labor movements across the country, reported Asian Journal.

  • Through a webcast streamed by the California Museum, Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom honored Itliong and other 14th class members.
  • “Sometimes the Hall of Fame gives us the opportunity to bring outstanding Californians out of the shadows when their contributions to society have been largely overlooked in history books,” Siebel stated. “And there is no better example of that than Larry Itliong.”
  • “We all benefit from Larry’s leadership and unapologetic advocacy,” Newsom added.
  • According to The Record, Itliong was recognized posthumously with others including artist Ruth Asawa, singer Jerry Garcia, rock music icon Ritchie Valens and gay rights activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin.

Itliong’s achievements: According to the California Museum, Itliong became “one of the most important civil rights leaders of the 20th century and a father of the West Coast labor movement.”

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  • Itliong immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines at the age of 15 and became a migrant worker. Due to his experience of working in the Alaskan fish canneries and along the West Coast, he became an activist for farm laborers.
  • After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II and becoming a U.S. citizen in 1954, Itliong moved to Stockton, where he organized for the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC).
  • “He was so good at recruiting new members that union leaders asked him to move to Delano to organize Filipino grape workers. It was there that he helped change the history of farm labor,” wrote the California Museum.
  • Itliong led the AWOC and joined forces with the National Farm Workers Association to start the Delano Grape Strike and Boycott, which, according to the California Museum, “lasted five years and was one of the most important social justice and labor movements in American history, ending with victory for the farmworkers.”
  • He continued to serve the Filipino American community until his death in 1977. Another one of his successes includes securing funding that provided housing and support for retired Filipino farmworkers.

In addition to his honor in the Hall of Fame, Oct. 25 will now be observed as Larry Itliong Day under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. According to CapRadio, Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who introduced the bill, said that young people in California should learn the contributions of Filipino-Americans to the state as it is a narrative that is not often told in history books.

Featured Image via The California Museum

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