I’m quite behind on my postings – a few events and two weeks – so please bear with me as I try to catch up. Two weeks ago, Monday, October 19th, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center hosted the Inaugural Larry Itliong Day Celebration. CA State Assemblyperson Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) authored the bill to establish Filipino labor leader Larry Itliong’s birthday, October 25th, as Larry Itliong Day. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill over the summer. Bonta presented a copy of the bill to Itliong’s son, Johnny, who has spent years trying to bring recognition to his father’s contributions to the farm labor movement.
My publisher, Eastwind Books of Berkeley, sponsored a table at the event, and I was there to sign copies of my book. It was an honor to witness the inaugural event, as it kicked off celebrations across the state for Itliong. It’s been a long time coming, and what better way to celebrate than in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike. I had the privilege of meeting El Cerrito Council member Gabe Quinto and Assemblyperson Bonta’s mother, Cynthia, who along with her husband was an active supporter of the United Farm Workers during the time of the strike and boycotts.
Later that week, on Thursday, October 22nd, I gave a reading at UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Library. The audience was small, but the discussion was lively, with thoughtful questions from friends and Asian-American Studies students about the history of the Filipino American involvement in the grape strike and labor unions, and my writing. It was great to see friends at this reading who were unable to attend my book launch party at Eastwind Books of Berkeley.