Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program Exhibit (6/6/15) in South Dakota (South Dakota State Agricultural Heritage Museum)



The Ag Heritage Museum is excited to announce that we will be hosting another traveling exhibit from June 6 thru August 16. The exhibit is called “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964.” This bilingual exhibit, organized by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, examines the experiences of bracero workers and their families, providing rich insight in Mexican American History and historical background into today’s debates on guest worker program.

The Bracero Program (named for the Spanish term bracero, meaning “manual laborer” [lit. “one who works using his arms”]) was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements, initiated by an August 1942 exchange of diplomatic notes between the United States and Mexico, for the importation of temporary contract laborers from Mexico to the United States. At the start of the program, train loads of Mexican immigrants ready to work were sent over during the heart of WWII for the “emergency wartime agricultural and railroad importations”. Shortages of food and other goods throughout the U.S caused chaos throughout the nation which eventually led to a desperate need for solution. The Bracero Program was the solution.

American president Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Mexican president Manuel Ávila Camacho in Monterrey, Mexico, to discuss Mexico as part of the Allies in World War II and the bracero program. After the expiration of the initial agreement in 1947, the program was continued in agriculture under a variety of laws and administrative agreements until its formal end in 1964.

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