California History You Probably Didn't Learn in School

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Anhelica Perez, Melanie Retuda and Larissa Portillo (L-R) in front of a mural in downtown Delano featuring Philip Vera Cruz, Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong.  (Lisa Morehouse/KQED)

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Right now there are debates going on across the country about history: who gets to write and tell our stories, and who gets left out. This week, we feature some of our favorite California history stories from The California Report Magazine archive. They explore some of the historical injustices against immigrants and communities of color in our state, but they also highlight acts of courage and resilience you might not have learned about in history class.

The Forgotten Filipino-Americans Who Led the ’65 Delano Grape Strike

Today, grapes in the grocery store don’t seem that controversial. But back in 1965, a historic strike in California’s Central Valley vineyards set in motion the most significant campaign in modern labor history: the farmworker movement. While the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez are widely known for running the Delano Grape Strike and prompting an international boycott of table grapes, the contributions of Filipino workers and labor leader Larry Itliong are often overlooked. But without them the UFW wouldn't exist. Reporter Lisa Morehouse brought us this story in 2015.

Breaking the Silence on Angel Island’s Immigration Station

Angel Island State Park is just a short ferry ride away from San Francisco’s wharf. Most visitors make the trip to bike, picnic and catch a stunning glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. But hidden in plain sight is a remnant of a time when California wasn’t so welcoming to immigrants. It’s a historic landmark that many Bay Area residents and visitors don’t realize exists on the scenic island: one of the oldest immigration detention facilities in the nation. Marisol Medina-Cadena visited Angel Island for this story  in 2018. 

The Occupation of Catalina Island

And now we’re going to head to another island -- one activists occupied nearly 50 years ago in an effort to reclaim it. In August 1972, a Chicano rights group called the Brown Berets camped out on Catalina Island for three weeks. They were  demanding that unused land be turned into housing.   Reporter Ariella Markowitz grew up on Catalina, but she only learned about this part of the island’s history when she brought us this story last summer.

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