Archives for March 2009

Interview: Gov. Mike Dukakis

Tonight we have another AAA-Fund exclusive:  an interview with 1988 Democratic Presidential Nominee Gov. Michael Dukakis.  During our chat, Gov. Dukakis discussed the Obama Administration, the urgent need for mass transit, getting rid of the Senate filibuster, and how young people can get more involved in politics.

Click here to watch our exclusive interview with Gov. Dukakis.

— Gautam Dutta

Honda's Chief on Roll Call

Watch Congressman Mike Honda’s Chief of Staff (and good AAA-Fund friend) Jennifer Van der Heide on Roll Call.  In the two and a half minute interview, get a glimpse of how Honda’s fast-paced office is managed and the many personalities that make up one of the busiest offices in Congress.

–Helen Tran

Dr. Chu Gains a Friend (& More Video)

Congressional candidate (and AAA-Fund endorsee) Dr. Judy Chu just gained more momentum:  one of her competitors just endorsed her.

Baldwin Park Unified School District Blanca Rubio announced she would withdraw from the Congressional race and endorse Dr. Chu (from Judy Chu for Congress):

Rubio’s endorsement caps a marathon week for Dr. Chu, during which she also secured the support of the League of Conservation Voters for her 100 percent environmental voting record, which is extremely important to residents of the 32nd District. She also received the endorsement of the California Teachers Association, which has more than 6,000 members in the 32nd District.

Rubio joins a diverse coalition of more than 75 elected state, city and school officials representing the vast majority of the 32nd District who have already endorsed Dr. Chu’s campaign for Congress. Among her supporters are the entire city councils of El Monte and West Covina, the district’s two largest cities; the mayors of Duarte, Azusa and South El Monte; and all three Assembly members who represent the district in the state Legislature: Dr. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, Mike Eng, D-El Monte and Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles.

Over her 23-year career, Dr. Chu has tirelessly worked to bring all communities of the San Fernando Valley together.  Her inclusive, thoughtful leadership has greatly benefited the San Gabriel Valley.

Speaking of Dr. Chu’s competitors, we have more video footage from the Mar. 19 Los Angeles Town Hall featuring the top three candidates in the race:  AAA-Fund endorsee Judy Chu, Gil Cedillo, and Emanuel Pleitez:

1.  Click here for AAA-Fund’s exclusive interview with Dr. Judy Chu.

2. Click here for Dr. Chu’s opening remarks.

3. Click here for Dr. Chu’s closing remarks.

4. Click here for Sen. Cedillo’s opening remarks.

5. Click here for Sen. Cedillo’s closing remarks.

6. Click here for Mr. Pleitez’s opening remarks.

7. Click here for Mr. Pleitez’s closing remarks.

We’ll have more video for you tomorrow.

— Gautam Dutta

Cesar Chavez Day & Asian Americans

This Cesar Chavez Day (March 31) reminds us how we lose ourselves when we forget our stories.

Charlotte, a student leader at Pomona College, asked me how do we ignite people into political action and sweep away the tired public perception of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) as passive and docile. I asked her if she knew the story of Pilipino or Japanese American farm workers in the fields and she admitted she knew very little. Considering the last of the Pilipino farm workers from an earlier period died in 1997 and very little has been written in any depth, most of the students I met that day shared this common amnesia.

The story of Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) has been widely circulated to the point of Cesar’s birthday being designated as a California state holiday and President Obama declaring public support of it becoming a national one. It is a story that has both inspired and been used to awaken the sleeping giant of Latina/o political activism. The UFW battle cry of “Si Se Puede” has been adopted by the current burgeoning immigrant rights movement and its English translation, “Yes We Can,” by Obama in his recent successful presidential run.

However, the story of AAPI farm workers has been lost as well as the true face of AAPIs.

Many do not know that the 1965 Delano Strike, which gave birth to the UFW, was started by Pilipinos, not Cesar Chavez and the Mexican farm workers.

As the summer heat of 1965 ripened the grapes of the Delano fields, Pilipino farm workers walked off the job and struck for dignity and better working conditions. Earlier, Cesar Chavez of the mostly Mexican National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) had refused the request of Larry Itliong of the predominantly Pilipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to join the strike. A week after the strike began, Larry approached Cesar again and this time Cesar relented and the Mexican workers overwhelmingly voted to join the Pilipino farm workers. Both unions merged to form the UFW. Cesar became the head of the union with Larry as second in command. Dolores Huerta became First Vice President and the Pilipino farm worker leaders filled the rest of the top six leadership positions with Philip Vera Cruz as Second Vice President, Andy Imutan as Third Vice President and Pete Velasco as Secretary Treasurer.

Additionally, the strike led to large support from the Pilipino American community with an alliance forming between Pilipino farm workers and Pilipino professionals as the Filipino American Political Alliance (FAPA), the first national political Pilipino organization with Larry Itliong eventually becoming its president. By 1970, over 30 cities had active chapters.

By the time of this strike, many of these Pilipino farm workers had over thirty years experience fighting and striking in the field since they arrived in the late 1920s and 1930s. Most struck within the first year on the job in the US. Even earlier, Japanese workers actively battled in the fields. Growers thought AAPI workers were too militant and confrontational and began vigorously seeking out Mexican workers, who they saw as passive, subservient and docile.

Over forty years later, the narrative has flipped. Many perceive Latino/as as central to the revival of the US labor movement and swinging many important political elections in different places like California. Whereas, a number of people label AAPIs as culturally obsequious and compliant.

Community leader Myung Soo Seok once told me that defining Asian values as “not making waves” is an inaccurate “American” interpretation. Who will tell our story as AAPIs?

This Cesar Chavez Day, we must restore our forgotten heritage forged through struggle and create new stories of AAPIs as a vibrant political force again.

— John Delloro

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