Campus Life Movie Series brings history to campus

by Joe Gilmore, Contributor

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union theater screened “Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers Movement” as part of One SDSU Community’s Campus Life Movie Series. It was screened in recognition of October as both Hispanic heritage and Filipino history month.

The film followed the story of Larry Itliong and the national movement for Filipino rights.

On Sept. 8, 1965, a group of 1,500 Filipino farm workers, led by Itliong, began a grape strike in Delano, California, that inspired the founding of the United Farm Workers Union and eventually led to the farmers signing a union contract. While Itliong may have been pushed into obscurity following the beginning of the unified strike, his efforts and accomplishments are not forgotten. In fact, Oct. 25 is recognized as Larry Itliong Day.

The film, itself, was put together well with a lot of archived footage. This type of historical footage allowed the viewer to see the actual hardships and racial inequality that these workers faced on a day-to-day basis.

Not only did the film provide the back story to the Delano grape strike, it also included interviews from important figures in the movement, such as Johnny Itliong, son of Larry Itliong, and Richard Chavez, brother of Cesar Chavez.

There was one noticeable problem with the film: the length — it was just 29 minutes. The filmmakers managed to pack a lot of information into that time, but they could have gone into more detail on multiple topics, including the racial tensions throughout the U.S. in the decades leading up to the 1960s, which the film covered only briefly.

Despite this small drawback, overall, the film was a great learning experience for viewers who didn’t know about the movement. Even for those who knew of the strike before, seeing some of the actual footage from that time helped to provide historical context and a further grasp of the hardships these workers had to overcome.

Following the film, a panel discussion of professors and students gathered. Johnny Itliong even Skyped in to answer questions from the audience.

“(My father) was a person who stood up for those who couldn’t stand, fought for those who couldn’t fight, spoke for those who couldn’t speak,” Johnny Itliong said. “A man for the people.”

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Campus Life Movie Series will continue in the student union with “Music Within,” a film following the true story of Richard Pimentel, a Vietnam War veteran who helped implement the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will be screened in recognition of October as DiversAbility Awareness Month at SDSU.

Following the film, Pimentel, himself, will be present to answer questions from the audience.