Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

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Unit Plan: Philip Vera Cruz, Justice for Farm Workers

Ethnic Studies, U.S. History,
English Language Arts
This unit exposes students to the general history of the Filipino presence in the United States and the specific role of Filipinos in the organization of the California farm workers' movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Students go beyond textbook and popular media accounts of the farm worker movement to appreciate the importance of Filipino leaders like Philip Vera Cruz, who promoted ethnic unity in the labor movement and larger struggles for social justice. The lesson will culminate with students writing their own textbook revisions that detail the Filipino role in California’s farm worker movement, including the formation of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the successful grape boycott of the 1960s.

Lesson 1: Focus is on the nature of agricultural work in California and the multiracial/multiethnic groups making up the rural workforce. Students analyze primary sources in the form of poetry written by different groups to understand common struggles shared by California farm workers and generate ideas about what things would divide workers. Students then write their own poetry or a letter about the conditions faced by workers.

Lesson 2: This lesson focuses specifically on the history of Filipinos in California and how they became involved in agriculture. Students read a biography about Philip Vera Cruz and create a graphic historical timeline that connects events from his life to a broader historical and generational context.

Lesson 3: Students “open up” a textbook account of the founding of the UFW by analyzing a number of documents that reveal the pivotal role of Filipino workers in the farm workers’ movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They then “revise” a textbook account to be more inclusive of Filipino contributions.

Grade 11 California U.S. History and Geography Standards
CA 11.8 Students analyze the economic boom and social transformation of post-World War II America.
CA 11.6.5 Trace the advances and retreats of organized labor…including the United Farm Workers in California.
CA 11.10 Students analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights.
Grade 9/10 California Common Core State Standards for Reading and Writing
RI (Reading Standards for Informational Texts grades 9-10)
W (Writing Standards)
SL (Speaking and Listening Standard)

Informational Text Reading Standards:

RI 9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RI 9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone.
RI 9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums, determining which details are emphasized in each account.

Writing Standards:
W 9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W 9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

Speaking and Listening Standard:
SL 9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively…
1. Students will learn that textbooks do not present history in its totality; in order to have a more complete understanding of the past, they must synthesize information from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary.
2. Students will learn how to evaluate and synthesize information from sources to create their own secondary source depicting the multiracial/multiethnic history of the farm workers’ movement in 20th century California.
1. Why did Filipinos become such an important part of California’s agricultural workforce?
2. Why did a farm workers’ movement emerge in California?
3. How has race united and divided workers in America?
4. What role did Filipinos play in the farm workers’ movement?
5. Why is Philip Vera Cruz significant in the farm workers’ movement?
6. To what extent can the life of one person represent the history of a people?
7. What makes an effective leader?
8. What does the Filipino American experience say about the American Dream?
9. How have immigrants advanced social justice in the United States?
10. How do historians make decisions about what to include in their accounts of the past?
1. “Academic Vocabulary Philip Vera Cruz UFW” handout
2. “Academic Vocabulary Philip Vera Cruz UFW” teacher version
3. “America Is in the Heart” excerpt
4. “An Immigrant’s Haiku Records Great Dreams” handout
5. “Corrido Pensilvanio” poem handout
6. “Filipino American Farm Worker History Timeline” handout
7. “How Filipino American Workers Reached America” handout
8. “Lesson 1 Class Work Homework Philip Vera Cruz UFW” handout
9. “Lesson 2 Class Work Homework Philip Vera Cruz UFW” handout
10. “Lesson 3 Philip Vera Cruz UFW Textbook Revision” handout
11. “Profits Enslave the World” poem handout
12. “Songs of Gold Mountain” handout
13. “Speech by Andy Imutan” handout
14. “UFW Movement Philip Vera Cruz Excerpt” handout
15. “Unified Coalition UFW” handout
16. “Unit Slide Philip Vera Cruz, Justice for Farm Workers”
17. “Unit Plan Philip Vera Cruz, Justice for Farm Workers”

Videos Available Online:

1. Fil-Ams cry foul over lack of Pinoy labor leaders in Cesar Chavez film,” TFC Balitang America, Run time: 3 minutes 36 seconds Source
2. Filipino Americans: Discovering the Past for the Future, Part 2 of 4, Run time: 14 minutes 16 seconds Source
3. “Filipino Manongs Ignite the 1965 Grape Strike,” Kababayan Today LA, Run time: 5 minutes 30 sec Source
4. Little Manila: Filipinnos in California’s Heartland, KVIE video, 2013, Run time: 26 minutes 46 seconds Source

Recommended Supplemental Texts:

1. Brimner, Larry Dane, Strike! The Farmworkers’ Fight for Their Rights, Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Calkins Creek, 2014.
2. Bulosan, Carlos, America Is in the Heart, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1946. Available as an e-book at;view=1up;seq=72
3. McWilliams, Carey, Factories in the Field: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California, Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000.
4. Scharlin, Craig and Villanueva, Lilia V., Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement, Third Edition, Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2000.
5. Takaki, Ronald T., A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1993. Print.
6. Takaki, Ronald T., Strangers from a Different Shore. Boston: Little, Brown and Company; Revised and Updated edition (September 23, 1998).

Other Web Resources:

1. Carlos Bulosan poetry and biography
2. Filipino American Labor Archives
3. Hill, Margaret, “Pioneer Sikh Migration to North America”
4. “Immigrant Voices: From Punjab, India to Angel Island”, Run time: 7:28 Source
5. Other Bulosan poems
6. Paul, Sonia, “Immigrant Ghosts Linger”
7. United Farm Workers Website
Curriculum Developer:
Ingrid Fey
Lesson Plan: Philip Vera Cruz, Justice for Farm Workers >
Untold Civil Rights Stories Main Page >


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