A mural depicting UFW organizers, Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Itliong, and Cesar Chavez in Unidad Park, Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0; Photo by Kenny Chang. Marta Segura was District Director for Council District 13 when this mural was made possible by her staff coordinating the artists, community, and resources to honor these leaders.

Cesar Chavez was a multicultural, multi-issue movement builder, a Mexican-American, Indigenous, Chicano leader, visionary, labor leader, nonviolent civil rights activist, and health and housing champion. He was committed to nonviolent resistance, which Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced. However, the start of this great work was the Delano Grape Boycott.

The Delano Grape Boycott was a labor strike and a multi-ethnic movement for environmental justice and human rights. Its aim was to draw attention to the severe health and soil impacts of pesticides used in agriculture, which were harming farmworkers and their babies but also consumers. The UFW booklets showed us babies born with spina bifida, birth defects, and stillborns to the women working or living near the fields. This kind of booklet was unheard of at the time, addressing consumers, but uniting with the boycott and the strike, and showing graphic, devastating photos.

Therefore, as we pay tribute to Cesar Chavez, we must also recognize Larry Itliong and Phillip Vera Cruz, both Filipino leaders and farmworkers who organized thousands of farmworkers, and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), who later joined forces with the United Farm Workers (UFW) which united workers from different cultural and religious backgrounds, including Muslim, Chinese, Japanese, and Punjabi Sikh farmworkers, and others working in the fields, to fight for human and labor rights. Above all, it was a class struggle, and perhaps that is why they achieved such greatness; they put aside their individualism, nationalism, and other differences, and came together for a common cause.

In my humble perspective, they helped to pave the way for what are now known as the Principles of Environmental Justice. Long live the work of the United Farm Workers! May the spirit of Cesar Chavez, Phillip Vera Cruz, and Larry Itliong, along with all the brave men and women for having created one of most consequential multi-issue, multi-ethnic campaigns in the history of the nation.

United Farm Workers leaders Cesar Chavez, left, and Larry Itliong, right, in front of union headquarters at Delano, Calif., July 28, 1967. (Photo by Harold Filan / AP)