The students in Kei Fischer’s Asians in U.S. class under the Asian American Studies program at San Francisco State University sent a card thanking me for taking the time out to talk to them about the Filipino-American contributions to our country’s farm labor history. Many didn’t know that the Filipino-American manongs, who came in the first wave of immigrants from the Philippines in the 1920s, were the ones who started the strike, under the guidance of labor leader Larry Itliong.
I appreciated their letting me know that they have greater appreciation and pride in their history. I was most bemused by one comment: “You have a cool life.” Most days, yes. So just when you wonder if you’ve made an impact on the younger generation, some of the truly heartfelt sentiments removed those doubts. I continue to tell the story – now with renewed alacrity.