This week, a Bay Area middle school will be officially renamed in honor of labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. It is believed to be the first school in the nation to be named in honor of Filipino Americans.
Union City school first in nation named for Filipino-Americans
On Friday, Alvarado Middle School in Union City will be renamed Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School. Itlong and Vera Cruz were key figures in the west coast labor movement, working with Cesar Chavez in the 1960s to organize agricultural laborers and improve working conditions.
The name change was approved by the school board in 2013 after a vigorous community debate over whether to retain the name Alvarado, in honor of a 19th century Mexican governor.
In 2013, those for and against the Alvarado Middle School change staged demonstrations and packed school board meetings. The school board approved the name change on a 3-2 vote.
Some wanted the school to remain Alvarado to honor Juan Bautista Alvarado, a 19th-century Mexican governor.
Others said Alvarado was well-represented in Union City, where a neighborhood, an elementary school, two streets and a park already carry his name.
In the neighborhood around the middle school, about 38 percent of the residents are Filipino-American, said Joe Angeles, part of a coalition that urged the school be called Itliong-Vera Cruz. Discussion about naming a Union City school in honor of Filipino-Americans goes back to 1992, he said.
The name change will be celebrated on Friday afternoon at the school with performances and speeches.
Meanwhile, last month in Long Beach, the Philippine American Bar Association submitted a proposal to the Long Beach Unified School District to name a school facility in honor of Larry Itliong.
More here: Group asks Long Beach Unified to name facility for Filipino labor leader Larry Itliong