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Labor leader: Bonta's election to highlight PH contributions to California

Rommel Conclara | TFC News Sacramento, California

Posted at Jan 12 2023 09:12 AM | Updated as of Jan 12 2023 10:11 AM

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Rob Bonta recently made history after being the first Filipino American elected as California's Attorney General.

One of those who spoke at his inauguration is legendary Mexican American labor leader Dolores Huerta.

Bonta's parents, Cynthia and Warren, were union organizers who worked alongside Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and Filipino leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz in the 1965 Delano grape strike to revolutionize labor rights for the nation.

Huerta said Bonta's historic role is a testament to the work of Filipinos before him.

"People in California do not know a lot about Filipino history. And I think that Rob's election will give us all that an opportunity, to start looking into that history and see the bravery of the Filipino people who have been in history but also here in the state of California," she said.

The collaboration of Filipino and Mexican American laborers resulted in the founding of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in 1962. Aside from low pay and harsh working conditions, Huerta recounted other injustices Filipinos endured during that time.  

"They do not know about the exclusion of Filipinos being able to marry Caucasians here in California because of the Oriental Exclusion Act. And many of the manongs, the older Filipinos, never had a chance to marry. They were denied that. So many things have to be fixed. So many things have to be repaired. But I know that having Rob as our Attorney General and as a leader in our state that we are on a right path."

Huerta, who remembers Bonta growing up in the UFW daycare program, said she is so proud to see the man he has become.

Bonta was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom as Attorney General in 2020. He defeated his Republican challenger in the 2022 general election for a full four-year term.