BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — October is Filipino American History Month and a Filipino American labor leader who alongside Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Philip Vera Cruz, made history right here in Delano is finally getting a mural solely dedicated to him in the town he helped foster great change.
They say pictures are worth a thousand words and this one is a whole history book. Larry Itliong: Road to Equality and Justice, the new mural wrapping around the exterior of the Morningside Elementary School library in Delano will represent scenes from Larry Itliong’s lifetime.
“That picture is significant, because it reminds me of my childhood, and what my dad taught me, to never give up,” said Patty Serda, Larry Itliong’s daughter. “He came to America and found out people were not being treated fairly in the fields. He was the type of person who wanted to fight for the rights of humans.”
Serda is the librarian at the school. It started as her vision to name the library she has worked at for 21 years after the man who sparked her love for reading as you’ll see in the painting behind her.
Then she said, it turned into the first mural in Delano dedicated to him at the heart of where Serda said he helped pave the way for Filipino Americans. Helping bring that legacy to life on the canvas artist Eliseo Art Silva.
“It was really the Watsonville anti-Filipino riots in 1929, the same year [Itliong] came to the United States. That was a trigger for all the unions. All the Filipino-American workers organized. It culminated in the Coachella Valley strike in 1965, and then the Delano Grape strike. So, Larry was the one that brought it into the final chapter of victory,” said Silva.
Eliseo was not the only artist that had a hand in the mural. Morningside Elementary Students past and present made their own contributions.
“They see it differently without bias, without what do you call it--an agenda. Their only agenda is to tell a story,” said Silva.
Silva said the children helped him narrow down the narrative and eventually assisted him with painting the wall through a parachute cloth method.
The mural will be unveiled on Larry Itliong’s birthday and Larry Itliong Day, October 25. Serda hopes students feel seen and remember the history whenever they see the mural.
“The students at my school, they know everything about my dad,” said Serda. “We teach them every year. So, they’re all pretty excited. When they come back on Monday, they’re going to be extremely proud just like I am.”
Serda and Morningside Elementary School also wanted to thank the Delano Union School District Board of Trustees, Superintendent Rosalina Rivera and Principal Ricardo Chavez for helping make this mural happen.