Rename Alvarado Middle School after Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz!

No history, no self. Know history, know self. 


Roughly, 1 in 3 students in the New Haven Unified School District are Filipino, and 1 in 5 people in Union City are Filipino. Changing the name of Alvarado Middle School would serve multiple purposes. One being that we can honor forgotten Filipino heroes Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong, and their important roles in the fight for farm labor rights and civil liberties, work that reached the fields of Union City. Another reason is that we can potentially instill a great sense of pride and empower our large Filipino population, while also shining a light upon the past solidarity work of Filipino and Mexican people. It would be beneficial for all staff, parents, students and residents. Let's make history! 

Who are Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong? 

Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong are important figures in Filipino and American history. They are the rarely celebrated, much often forgotten leaders in the battle for farm workers rights and the movement for civil liberties. Vera Cruz was a labor leader. In the 1960s, he was an organizer with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), which later merged with Cesar Chavez’s National Farm Workers Association (NFWA to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC)- giving respect to both unions. 
Vera Cruz went on to serve as a vice president with the United Farm Workers (UFW) union.
 
Itliong, founded the Farm Laborer's Union (FLU) in Stockton, and became the President of AWOC before the heralded strike and boycott of 1965. He was a self-taught labor leader who organized protests in California and Alaska. Along with Vera Cruz, he convinced Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta’s predominantly Mexican/Latino NFWA to join the Grape Strike and Boycott of 1965 demanding better pay and benefits. Together, as UFWOC, Filipinos and Mexicans along with many workers of other ethnic backgrounds dug in for a long, hard fought battle. Itliong served as assistant director during his tenure with UFWOC. Eventually, the efforts of UFWOC brought an end to several unfair labor practices, and they also organized and participated in a 300 mile pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento.  After coming out victorious, the leadership of UFWOC changed its name to what it is now recognized as, the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. 

These men and their dedication to the movement for worker and civil rights must be recognized and their legacy passed on.

Recognize our history! 
Honor Our Heroes! 
Support the renaming!
Long Live Inter-ethnic Solidarity! 


*The AWOC was founded in Stockton in 1959. In fact, he did not join until around the time of the 1965 Grape Strike. Larry Itliong was a radical farm labor organizer beginning in the early 1930s, and became a VP of the radical union, Local 7, United Cannery and Agricultural and Packing and Allied Workers in the 1940s, and helped lead the 1948 asparagus strike in Stockton. He was hired by the AWOC in 1960 in Stockton, where he lived, and was sent to Delano in 1962 to organize the grape workers there. On Sept. 8, 1965, under the leadership of Itliong, the AWOC voted to go on strike. Itliong approached Chavez and broached the idea of the alliance that became the UFW. Itliong became the assistant director of the UFW from 1966-1971 and was the leader of the Grape Boycott. Itliong was disappointed in the ways Filipinos were treated in the union and in vehement philosophical and political disagreement with Chavez and resigned in 1971. He died in 1977. Vera Cruz became VP of the UFW in 1971 and resigned in 1977 over disagreements with Chavez and the UFW board over a number of issues, including recent firings and Chavez's decision to go to the Philippines. 

References: Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement; Sam Kushner, _Long Road to Delano_, and Matt Garcia, _From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement.

**Thank you to Dawn Mabalon, for the added information and insight.

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Some FAQs about this campaign to rename AMS to honor Filipino American heroes, Philip Vera Cruz & Larry Itliong.

1. Why the renaming?

Efforts to name, or rename, a school to recognize the Filipino American community in Union City has been a topic of conversation in the NHUSD for at least 13 years. Every time a school has been named, or renamed, members of the Filipino community have been present to nominate a name to represent the history and contributions of Filipino Americans in this state and country. The efforts to rename for so long has always stood in line with NHUSD’s commitment to equity and diversity- calling to mind the school district’s motto of “Equity, Stability, and Quality”. The district has schools named after individuals representing different ethnicities, but has yet to name a school to recognize one its largest student populations- Filipinos. The district should continue its legacy of celebrating diversity.

Also, naming a middle school after Filipino American heroes Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz only makes sense since New Haven Middle School was renamed to honor Cesar Chavez, whom gained notoriety and fame when joined the 1965 Grape Strike which was started by Itliong and Vera Cruz. Together, the unions represented by the three went on to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), with the name symbolizing the collaboration between the two groups.

The renaming of Alvarado Middle School does not take anything away from the school district or the community. In fact it adds value by highlighting the unity and solidarity exemplified between ethnic communities.
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2. Why now?

As stated above, the efforts to have the Filipino community recognized and honored by having a school named/renamed has been part of district conversation for 13 years. As recently as last fall, members of the NHUSD Board of Trustees acknowledged that the idea had been passed over at least three times in the past, and in January approved the renaming of Alvarado Middle School unanimously. According to that vote, the board has already committed to changing the name of Alvarado Middle School.
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3. Who’s going to pay for it?

A big concern among those opposing the name change is the cost, which district officials estimated at $10,000, according to NHUSD’s Chief Business Officer. Though board members themselves did not directly comment on the cost, supporting organizations said they would raise funds and pay for it themselves.
“Rest assured that we will not ask for general funds from the school district,” said councilman Jim Navarro, who is also a member of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce and a former New Haven board member. “Not a single dollar from the district will be spent or fund this project.” (Zoniel Maharaj, School Board Says AMS Name Change Will Happen, But to What Name?, Patch.com)

To further address concerns about the cost, the Filipino community already has committed to covering it and not touching the district's general fund. An anonymous donor has already donated more than half of what the district's Chief Business Officer projected the cost to be ($10k). It should also be noted that Alvarado Middle School's library was saved this year by Don Del Pilar, a Filipino donor who donated $15k of a total $30k needed to keep it from being shut down.
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4. Is the renaming taking away from history?

No, definitely not. Some of those who oppose the renaming of AMS cite that it would take away from history because of the removal of the Alvarado name. The Alvarado name is that of Juan Bautista Alvarado, governor of Alta California from 1836 to 1842, before California was even a state. Alvarado Elementary School is the only school in the district named specifically to honor Juan Bautista Alvarado. As board member Michelle Matthews stated during the March 19th meeting, “While I recognize the attachment to Alvarado Middle School and its name, those of you who know this community and know our history know that the reason Alvarado Middle School was named Alvarado Middle School is because it was located adjacent to Alvarado Elementary.” That’s all. It was merely because it was next to Alvarado Elementary, not to further honor Juan Bautista Alvarado. The Alvarado name will still live on in Old Alvarado, Alvarado Elementary School, Alvarado-Niles Road, and Alvarado Blvd. The name change does not take anything away from the history, but will add to the rich history of diversity and especially interethnic solidarity exemplified by Cesar Chavez and his work with Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz.

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