Asian American Political Alliance showing support for the Black Panthers, Alameda County Courthouse Oakland, CA
Taken from “Black Panthers: 1968” by Howard L. Bingham
To certain outside viewers, Vietnamese in America may have become synonymous with flag-waving conservatism, embodying a reactionary and censorious nationalism couched in the rallying cries of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom.’ That’s definitely not me nor quite a few other Vietnamese Americans both young and old. But neither are we the conical-hatted, machine gun-slinging peasant warriors glorified in the lore of America’s left movement.
[However] there is a Vietnamese history in America — and a leftist history at that — going as far back as the 1940s national liberation struggles among émigrés in New York against French colonialism, to the 1960s anti-war activism of Vietnamese students and early immigrants. On July 2, 1972 in Los Angeles, the Union of Vietnamese in the United States was formed — the only group of Vietnamese in America to organize against the war.
Reclaiming our Vietnamese American history and identity has come to have a lot more meaning for me these days. It will mean, I think, careful and strategic organizing work within our communities. It will mean nurturing the youth and not antagonizing the elders. It will mean growing and struggling in the U.S. without forgetting to fight the imperialism that brought us here.” —Tram Quang Nguyen, "Caring for the Soul of Our Community: Youth and Activism Today," [excerpt], from Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment, edited by Steve Louie and Glenn Omatsu (2001).
Hello! It’s the Chinese traditional character (also used in Japanese, and in certain situations in Korean) for “east.” (I’m sorry if this is a super old ask, I’m a new admin just now looking through all our messages!)
First pages of Asian Women (1971), a journal produced by students at UC Berkeley, with articles and art submitted by Asian women across the country.
Most of the compilers met in Asian Studies 170, a winter 1971 proseminar designed to discuss the history and roles of Asian women. Confronted with sexism in the Asian movement, and finding that “the white middle-class woman’s liberation movement” was not relevant to their lives, many Asian American women activists in colleges found the need to create venues for their experiences and opinions.
Chris Ijima, musician and activist
from Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment, edited by Steve Louie and Glenn Omatsu (2001), p.7
I was recently featured in an alumni video for the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program at UC Berkeley. I talked about typical things—my family background, why I majored in AAADS, and what I hoped to achieve in the future. I saw a draft and almost fully edited version this weekend and although the butterflies in my stomach were swarming with excitement about seeing myself in the video and what an honor it was to have been asked to contribute, I could not help but feel unsettled, especially in the beginning, when the narrator began to talk about the hxstory of the AAADS Program.
Of course, it all started with the Third World Liberation Front. I am not going to give you all a long, winded hxstory of the movement, but basically students of color at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley demanded, organized, and fought for a more relevant and valid education, an education that was pertinent to their experiences, their hxstories, and lives. I first learned about the TWLF during my first year of college, and I remembered feeling such awe and inspiration that students of color—students who looked like me and came from similar backgrounds as me—established Ethnic Studies. I was empowered to major in AAADS and to one day contribute to the field as a Filipina American scholar.
I never noticed it back then, probably because I idolized and romanticized the movement to the point where I saw nothing wrong, and because I hadn’t come to terms with my identity as a womxn of color yet. But looking back on what I learned about the TWLF, particularly at the images, stories, and voices portrayed, it can’t help but appear to be a male-dominated movement. Look at the above photo, for instance. That photograph shows leaders of the TWLF (from left to right): Richard Aoki, Charlie Brown, and Manuel Delgado. Although they are wonderful, inspiring men who contributed so much to their community and paved the way for future generations, I can’t help but wonder why all leaders of the TWLF—at least all the leaders portrayed by the media and the material in my classes—were men of color.
AAA will be making a comeback! Stay tuned. :)
Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong were the forgotten Pilipino heroes of the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union. They were both leaders in the battle for farm workers rights.
When you open a textbook on U.S. History, the 1960’s was the decade of change. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked for Civil Rights and the banning of Segregation for the betterment of society. Cesar Chavez led the United Farm Workers Chicano Movement, which fought for workers rights. But, where do the names Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong fit in? People think that the Farm Workers movement was only a chicano/latino movement that made it to the history books. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know that it was also a movement lead by Pilipinos.
Philip Vera Cruz
Philip Vera Cruz was a Pilipino-American labor leader; he was a farm worker and a leader/Activist for the Asian American civil rights movement. Vera Cruz was one of the founders of the Agriculture Worker Organizing Committee (AWOC), which later merged with Cesar Chavez’s NationalFarm Workers Association (NFWA) and gave birth to the United Farm Worker (UFW). Philip Vera Cruz was long-time vice president of the UFW.
Larry Itliong was a Pilipino labor leader that founded the Filipino Farm Labor Union (FFLU) and was the President of AWOC. Larry was a self-taught labor leader who handled protests in California and Alaska. Along With Philip Vera Cruz, he convinced Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta’s predominantly Mexican/Latino National Farm Workers Association to join the Grape Strike and Boycott of 1965 demanding better pay and benefits. Together the Pilipinos and Mexicans formed the United Farm Workers. Larry Itliong became a high ranking member of the UFW, becoming the second vice president.
Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong, along with other Pilipino-American farmers, were the people who started the 1965 Grape Strike and Boycott. One week later Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Richard Chavez joined the strike that eventually brought an end to the unfair wages and benefits with a 300 mile pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento.
During this year’s Pilipino-American History Month, let us continue to honor Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong for playing their important roles in the fight for farm labor rights.
Thank you! I really love running this blog and I hope to keep posting wonderful material. :)
Yes, it’s still active. I’ve currently been involved in other projects so I haven’t had the time to update this blog consistently, but I’ll always come back to it.