Migrant Farm Workers and the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement
Mexican-Americans have confronted racism and discrimination from the time whites first began to settle the Southwest, from the era of the struggle for Texas independence, through the Mexican War and the Mexican Revolution, the U.S. labor shortages of the two World Wars and, ultimately, the development of the Chicano Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The struggle for acceptance by Mexican Americans continues to this day.
United States industry particularly agriculture, but also mining and light industry has had a love-hate relationship with the Mexican-American worker for more than 150 years. Ranchers, farmers and industrialists love the cheap, seemingly inexhaustible nature of Mexican-American workers. Yet the employers and authorities have been slow to grant equal rights, respect and proper working conditions for the Mexican-American laborer. And, while welcomed in times of labor shortages, these workers prized for their productivity and industriousness have been quickly disposed of in times of labor oversupply. It has been this ebb and flow of labor status, as well as a growing Mexican-American social consciousness, that inspired the Chicano civil rights movement.