The Bracero Program began in 1942 as a temporary war measure to address labor needs in agriculture and the railroads. The workforce was made up of Mexican braceros hired in coordination with farm associations to work the fields in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, and 23 other states.
By the time the program came to and end in 1964, an estimated 4.6 million contracts had been awarded. Bittersweet Harvest, a travelling bilingual exhibition organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) that began in 2009 and continues nationwide through 2014.
The Bittersweet Harvest exhibit is coming to Regis University’s main campus in Denver, with an opening reception taking place August 21, 2012 at 5:00pm.
Attendees will be able view the array of artifacts, photos, film and information about what the bracero workers experienced, sparking insight into Mexican American history and how the past impacts today’s guest worker programs.
“The braceros experienced exploitation but also opportunity,” says NMAH curator Peter Liebhold. “The work was grueling, the time spent away from home difficult, but the opportunity to earn money was real. The program was truly bittersweet.”