On June 23rd, the Filipino American National Historical Society hosted their 16th Biennial Conference, A Pinoy State of Mind: Building Our Roots at John Jay College. We were proud to join the National Filipino American Lawyers Association, the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York and the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Oregon in presenting Justice Denied: Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio. In the 1970s, led by Filipino activists, workers in Alaskan canneries organized and filed class actions against unfair and discriminatory working conditions that had prevailed for decades against Asian American cannery workers. Although the Filipino workers lost their case before the United States Supreme Court, their efforts led Congress to pass an amendment to the Civil Rights Act in 1991 to achieve equal treatment and justice for workers of color. The reenactment cast wonderfully brought this tragic history back to life.
At the end of the re-enactment, several former Alaskan cannery workers attending this event stood up and shared their personal experiences with audience. The audience gave them a round applause. The story telling compelled many audience members to reflect on how much that generation had suffered and how much history has progressed.
Thank you to Connie Montoya and FALA New York for organizing this important session during the FANHS Conference. Thank you once again to Hon. Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin for once again leading a successful reenactment. For those wanting to learn more about this historical reenactment, please visit: http://reenactments.aabany.org/justice-denied-wards-cove-packing-v-atonio/
Write-up by AABANY Intern Claudia Shi.