Do you teach about the legacy of the Delano Grape workers strike in your class?. Sara Youngbar (aka @superlatinanerd) is here to help us teachers with ideas, tips and resources to teach this in our classroom. Thank you so much Sara for your help and collaboration to this blog. Please make sure to follow her on Instagram and contact her in case you need to bring an authentic voice and special guest for your classroom.
Delano Grape Strike and its importance
It is important that our students learn about Hispanic and Latinx heroes. Despite being some of the hardest working labor activists in recent U.S. history, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong are rarely mentioned in most history curriculums. In this post, I’m going give you tips on how to give an effective and meaningful lesson on the Delano Grape Pickers Strike of 1965-1970. The great thing about teaching this unit is that multiple subjects can be included! Some examples include health, life skills, nutrition, and science. This topic would be best suited for upper elementary, middle, and high school students.
Disclaimer: I highly recommend for teachers to view the suggested video clips to see if the content is appropriate for your students!
Introduce the Vocabulary (English and Spanish)
There will be important phrases and words mentioned throughout this lesson.
Boycott / Boicot: to join with others in refusing to deal with an organization usually to express disapproval
Fasting / Ayunar : abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink
Machismo: a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness
Strike / Huelga: a stopping of work by a body of workers to force an employer to meet demands
Union / El Sindicado: an organization of workers formed to protect the rights and interests of its members
Si se puede / Yes, we can: The most well-known slogan related to the Delano Grape Strike.
Viva la Causa / Long live the cause: One of the most well-known slogans during the strike.
Showcase The Human Side of the Strike Leaders
I think it is easier for kids to relate to these giant historical icons when they get to know what their fears, likes / dislikes, or what their struggles were. The Cesar Chavez movie starring Michael Peña and the Dolores documentary does an amazing job in showing this. Just a note, there are scenes that may be too mature for children. I suggest watching it yourself before deciding on showing it to your students.
For example, Dolores Huerta was constantly absent from her children as she was extremely busy with the union. Watching her children discuss the difficult nights and months in Dolores was heartbreaking. An interviewer asked Dolores Huerta: “If someone gave you $5,000 to spend on yourself, what would you spend it on?” Dolores answered that she would give the money to the union. To her, the union is her life’s work. The interviewer asked, “Well, don’t you ever have the average woman’s dream of going to the spa and getting a new hairdo or dress?” She replied, “To me, getting a new hairdo or new style would be just a waste of time.”
There were a lot of ups and downs with the United Farm Workers union. Larry Itliong left the union due to disagreements with Cesar related to union management. After Cesar Chavez’s death, Dolores Huerta was shockingly not chosen to be his successor. She ended up leaving the union and formed The Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day
Cesar Chavez Day is on March 31st. As of this writing, it is observed in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Remind students that it is currently NOT a national holiday, and they can have their voices heard! There is an active petition available at http://www.cesarchavezholiday.org/petition.html .
Celebrate Dolores Huerta Day
April 10th is designated as Dolores Huerta Day in the states of California and Washington. President Barack Obama’s popular slogan “Yes, we can!” was from Dolores Huerta’s “Si, se puede!” Unfortunately, many people assume that Cesar Chavez created it. Huerta deserves more credit for her contributions to this massive strike. The Dolores Huerta Foundation has a useful resource page containing lesson plans related to Dolores Huerta Day for all grade levels. Visit https://doloreshuerta.org/educationpolicy/dolores-huerta-day-curriculum/ .
Celebrate Larry Itliong Day
October 25th is designated as Larry Itliong Day in California and as of this writing, no other states have a proclamation honoring this holiday. For further children’s books about Itliong, I highly recommend Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong by Dawn B. Mabalon, PhD. and Gayle Romasanta and United to Strike: A Story of the Delano Grape Workers (I Am America) by Molly Zenk.
We Must Include the Contributions of Filipino Farm Workers
One of the most frustrating things about the legacy of the Delano Grape Strike is that the contributions of Filipino-Americans are usually left out of the conversation. The grape strike was started by mostly Filipino Americans led by Larry Itliong, who convinced Cesar Chavez and the NFWA to join them. Itliong was the spark needed to light up the movement but soon became eclipsed by the face of the movement. Sadly, many resources about the strike do not recognize his hard work. Larry Itliong deserves to have his name alongside Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the history books. Kirby Araullo has a great YouTube video titled 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Delano Grape Strike
How Can We Make It More Meaningful?
The PBS documentary Dolores contains many emotional and inspiring moments. Definitely watch it for yourself! If your local library does not have it available, it is available on Amazon Prime under the PBS Documentaries section. You can sign up for a 7-day free trial if needed.
I recommend showing students recent news articles that relate to the struggle of farmworkers today, especially those that discuss global warming and the risk of working in high temperatures. The Farmworker Project has a mini documentary about an Indigenous Farmworker living in Oxnard, California. You can find it at https://thefarmworkerproject.org/farmworkerdocumentary .
Teaching about the Delano Grape Strike may seem overwhelming but there are a lot of wonderful resources to choose from. Our students deserve to know the real history behind this monumental labor event!
Thank you so much for checking this blog post. If you are interested in more cultural blog posts, check them over here.
Resources you will like
Hispanic Heritage Month is here! What a great addition to your bulletin board or classroom decor. These banners are ready for you to print and go! You will find the following versions available.
20 banners in color – Bold print title
20 banners in blackline – print in colored paper to give it a pop of color
20 banners in blackline with single lines – these are designed for students to write a short description for each character.
20 banners in blackline with primary lines – these are designed for students to write a short description for each character.
There is a version with no words in Spanish included too.
Leaders and personalities included:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Julia de Burgos