Friday, September 04, 2015
KQED -- In many ways, Filipino farmworkers and labor organizers had prepared for the Delano Grape Strike for decades. Dawn Mabalon, professor of History at San Francisco State University, says they’d been fighting for better working conditions since the ’20s, and had a key win in 1939 in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “Five to seven thousand Filipinos in asparagus fields all walk out at the height of the season, on Good Friday,” threatening the availability of asparagus on Easter dinner tables, Mabalon says. “Growers capitulated in a day. So Filipinos know that if they all walk out, in absolute unity, with absolute militancy, they’re probably going to win.” Mabalon says, growing up not knowing this history, she and her peers feel the hurt of a generation. “It’s our story, and it demands our love and attention and respect, and we need to tell this story.” That’s happening more and more. Mabalon is writing a biography of Larry Itliong, Delano will host a celebration and more.