[I actually wrote this last year, but thought I’d repost it again]
I always have very mixed feelings on Cesar Chavez Day, but they’re not rooted in anger towards another group (the Mexican farmworkers). Instead, these feelings of frustration, anger, and disappointment come from a yearning for one group’s rightful place in history. It’s not about taking away from the Mexican struggle, it’s about spreading awareness of Filipinos and their role in the labor movement as well.
In addition to this video, there’s also a good article that summarizes this historical amnesia. If you want to dig even deeper, then you should check out one of my all time favorite books, Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement. Although it’s an autobiography that speaks from a Filipino perspective, I feel that it’s an honest look at what really went down during the formation of the UFW. Vera Cruz was objective in his observations and didn’t use this book as an opportunity to discredit the achievements of the Mexican laborers. No one was exempt from criticism (as it should be), including himself and other Filipinos.
Cesar Chavez did a lot of things to advance the workers’ struggle, but let it be known that he initially didn’t want any part of the Delano Grape Strike of 1965, which was a major catalyst in the formation of the UFW. Chavez only decided to join in after seeing the strength and resiliency of the Filipino workers, who had already been struggling and resisting for decades prior.