When The U.S. Government Tried To Replace Migrant Farmworkers With High Schoolers

Gustavo Arellano relates the story of the summer of 1965 when Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz wanted to recruit 20,000 high schoolers, specifically athletes called the A-TEAM — Athletes in Temporary Employment as Agricultural Manpower, to replace the hundreds of thousands of Mexican agricultural workers who had labored in the United States under the  Bracero Program. Only 3,300 of the 18,100 who signed up actually went to work picking crops.  Hundreds quit after a couple of weeks; other teens went on strike because of working conditions.  Historian Lori A. Flores wrote “These [high school students] had the words and whiteness to say what they were feeling and could act out in a way that Mexican-Americans who had been living this way for decades simply didn’t have the power or space for the American public to listen to them.”  To read the complete article, click here.

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