Larry Itliong is known as a prominent leader in one of the greatest social justice movements in the United States of America: the American farm labor movement.
At 15 years of age with only a sixth grade education, he decided to seek out the land of “milk and honey” in order to pursue his studies, and moved to the United States of America in 1929. As a result of the Great Depression, Larry Itliong was forced to work on the railroads and then as a migrant farmworker traveling through Montana, South Dakota, Washington, and finally California. During that time, Larry Itliong learned of the plight suffered by Filipinos and other immigrants working as farm laborers.
He organized a group of 1,500 Filipinos to strike against the grape growers of Delano, California, and continued on that strike for eight days while suffering through violence imposed by the growers’ hired hands and the sheriff’s department, and being thrown out of the labor camp.
However, Larry Itliong remained tenacious and resilient, calling upon Cesar Chavez and his followers to join forces with the Filipinos and strike together. Due partly as a result of Larry Itliong’s persuasiveness, the two groups combined, establishing the United Farm Workers of America Organizing Committee of the AFL-CIO, which led to the United Farm Workers of America, one of the greatest unions in the history of the nation. The unification of farm labor workers of different ethnicities was unprecedented at that time, setting an example for future generations of workers and organizers and proving to be one of the reasons for the success of the movement.
Larry Itliong moved on to become the President of the Filipino American Political Association, the first national political Filipino American organization and a crucial alliance between Filipino professionals and laborers that grew out of the Delano Grape Strike.
He was also instrumental in the founding of the Pablo Agbayani Village, a retirement home built by volunteers for retired Filipino Manongs who no longer had families and needed a place to call home.
Larry Itliong passed away in 1977 at the age of 63 leaving behind his wife and seven children.
October 25 of each year is designated and set apart as Larry Itliong Day, a day having special significance.
On Larry Itliong Day, all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to conduct exercises remembering the life of Larry Itliong, recognizing his accomplishments, and familiarizing pupils with the contributions he made to this state.(Section 37222.18 is added to the Education Code.)
The Governor annually proclaims October 25 as Larry Itliong Day.(Section 6725 is added to the Government Code)
(Approved by Governor June 30, 2015. Filed with Secretary of State June 30, 2015)
BILL AB 7.Page 1 (Date of Hearing: March 25, 2015) "...This bill designates October 25th of each year as Larry Itliong Day, and encourages public schools to recognize it as a day of special significance..."