The Bracero Project

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Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
History

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The Bracero Project

Colorado AgricultureColorado's dry climate is ideal for growing and storing a varitey of crops. The largest crop is potatoes, the second is onions and the third is beans. These crops are grown on the Northeastern plains as well as the San Luis Valley. Most of Colorado's fruit is grown on the Western Slope, near Grand Junction. Colorado's planting season begins in April and harvesting starts between May and July and goes through October. (http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1167364045813&ssbinary=true) The Braceros used a short-handled hoe while they farmed. It was called "stoop farming" because they had to bend over to harvest potatoes, onions, tomatoes, beets, beans, cucumbers, cantaloupes, lettuce and strawberries.

Life in the US from1942-1964President: Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961John F. Kennedy,1961-1963Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1969Latest Technology: Televisions aremass produced in 1940s. The video tape was invented in 1956.Many braceros bought radios and listened to Mariachi bands as well as popular American music. Music: Rock'n'roll hits the scene with Elvis. Musicians became celebrities with the British Invasion.Average Salary:1940-$1,2291950- $2.9221960-$4,743http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade

Why the Bracero Program? The Bracero Program is relevant to many of our students today because of the impact and relevance of immigration in their lives. Many of our students are Hispanic and it is important for them to learn about a piece of their home country’s history and involvement with the United States. By having our students learn about the Bracero Program, we are building on their background knowledge about Mexico’s history. We as teachers have the opportunity to implement cultural responsiveness by expanding a regular history lesson to a more relevant one for some of our students.

Have things really changed?The Bracero program has had lasting effects on both the United States and Mexico. It helped establish a common migration pattern: Mexican citizens entering the U.S. for work, going home to Mexico for some time, and returning again to the U.S. to earn more money. While the Bracero program has ended, the Mexicans that continue this migration pattern are now considered “Illegal,” and Mexican workers continue to be marginalized.

Listen to a former Bracero

“ You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ” – Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers

The Bracero Program

What is an Immigrant?An immigrant is someone who comes to live permanently in a foreign country. But did the Bracero's come to live permanently?Some Immigrants are considered Legal, while others are considered Illegal...

What does Bracero mean? Bracero means “arm laborer” in Spanish, with a similar English definition of, “a Mexican laborer admitted to the United States especially for seasonal contract labor in agriculture" ”(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bracero).

What was the Bracero Program?The Bracero Program started because of mutual agreements between Mexico and the United States, which allowed millions of Mexican men to come to the United States to work on, short-term, primarily agricultural labor contracts. From 1942 to 1964, 4.6 million contracts were signed, with many individuals returning several times on different contracts, making the Bracero Program the largest U.S. contract labor program. (http://braceroarchive.org/about) The majority of the Braceros were experienced farm laborers who traveled from agricultural regions of México. The Braceros stopped tending to their own land and crops for their families because they thought that they would earn more money working in the United States. (farmworkers.org).

The Mexican government hoped the braceros would learn new agricultural skills which would benefit the development of Mexico’s own agricultural programs

Immigration In The United States Then and NowThe Bracero program was a large contributor to both legal and illegal immigration in the United States. The Braceros were “imported” to the United States as farm hands with independent growers throughout the boarder states and other parts of the south eastern United States. Braceros worked through independent contracts that were written in English, meaning that they were not aware of their rights and sometimes their responsibilities. When the Braceros’ contracts expired, it was expected that they would return home to Mexico; however, many did not. During this time, if people were apprehended, they were simply legalized. Today, there is legislation and reform impacting immigrants – both legal and illegal in the United States. There are 33.7 Hispanics of Mexican origin in the United States today. 11.4 million of them were born in Mexico. There are some Americans who are weary of the number of immigrants in our country. There is concern about the impact of mass immigration on jobs, schools, health care, and “American culture”. With these concerns, however, there is a great dependence on immigrants in our country. Right now there is debate both publically and nationally about how to manage legal and illegal immigration and how to best support people who come to our country for a new life.

Video produced to justify the Bracero Program to Americans that believed these workers were taking away their jobs

Phil Ochs "Bracero"Portrays life of a Bracero

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Why study the Bracero Program? Rational and Sources

Braceros in ColoradoAccoring to interviews on the Bracero History Archive website, braceros in Colorado had the best working and living experince. Braceros earned $500.00 for a 45-day contract. During the winter months, braceros would be contracted for three months. One family even moved back to Colorado after their terrible living experinece in Texas. The interviewee recalls her school experience here and how she would get in trouble for speaking Spanish in elementary school.(http://braceroarchive.org/items/browse?search=colorado+bracero&submit_search=Search) Many of our students are bilingual and could relate to what it feels like to not be able to speak English. As culturally responsive teachers, we could talk to our students about how it feels to be discrimtated against because of the language you speak and how it has affects our classrooms today.Colorado Braceros in ActionBernie Valdez(1922-1997) fought for Latino labor rights in Colorado while working in the Bracero program. He later mangaed Denver's welfare programs and sat on the Denver Public School Board.(http://www.historycolorado.org/archaeologists/west-side-court-building)


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