May 9, 2010

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(Migrant workers in the 1950s - same as it ever was but no one was asking about Green Cards)

CBS Radio, in conjunction with The Ford Foundation produced a series of radio documentaries in the 1950s called "The People Act". Taking advantage of the new technology of the time (portable tape recorders), the CBS producers spread out over the country, focusing on what communities were doing to offer the solution to what were pressing problems of the time. The problems themselves haven't actually changed all that much in the 50+ years since some of these documentaries were aired, and perhaps some of the messages at the time were over the top, as a kind of antidote to the Red Scare fears that Americans were in danger almost daily of slipping under Communist influence.

But the bottom line was, these documentaries offer a fascinating glimpse into the American psyche of the 1950s and, if nothing else, offer a point of view to a specific time in our society - which, on occasion has been glossed over, trivialized and stereotyped over the years.

This segment is titled "An area unites to improve the lot of its Migrant workers" and is from 1956. It's narrated by CBS News Correspondent Robert Trout and all takes place in the San Joaquin Valley area of central California.

Like I said, some thing don't change all that much, except perhaps the majority number of migrants being from south of the Border now, as opposed to 1956.

Still - somebody's gotta pick the produce . . .

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