LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A community-driven organization hopes to keep Asian-American history alive generation to generation.

The goal of the Serve the People Institute, or SPI, is to share the history and values of the Asian-American Movement in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

“Ordinary people do extraordinary things,” Warren Furutani, the director of SPI, said.

Furutani has been a social justice activist for almost 50 years. A picture of him giving a speech with the Black Panthers in Harlem in 1974 now hangs in the Japanese American National Museum.

“We stand on the shoulders of the people that came before us, the people that come after us will stand on our shoulders and it continues on,” he said.

Christina Baggao also works to keep younger generations in touch with the past.

“We’re trying to build on this movement of progressivism and really looking after our communities and our Asian-American heritage,” she said.

SPI is co-presenting a documentary at the Los Angeles Asian-Pacific Film Festival. The film shows how thousands of Filipino farm workers rallied with their Chicano comrades to form the United Farm Workers.

“A desire to have social justice, equity, equality, and you need to fight for those things, they don’t just happen,” Furutani said.

Through documentation, preservation and outreach, SPI hopes to develop the next generation of activists and community leaders.

While most of the project is based online, SPI also holds events to get people together face-to-face.

The next event is an archiving workshop at the Pilipino Workers Center on May 17.


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