“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964”

“Bittersweet Harvest: The <i>Bracero</i> Program, 1942-1964”

Photo courtesy of Holocaust Museum Houston Braceros on the railroad tracks

Location Info:

Holocaust Museum Houston
5401 Caroline
Houston, TX  77004
For more than twenty years, Mexican nationals traveled north through a guest worker program that offered pitiful conditions and backbreaking work, but also economic opportunities. Holocaust Museum Houston is hosting its first Spanish/English bilingual exhibit in “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964,” telling the harsh reality of the bracero life through photographs and oral histories. The museum is a fitting location, says Michelle Tovar, a former fifth-grade teacher who now serves as associate director of Education-Spanish Outreach and Latin American Initiatives at the museum. “Students would tell me about their parents traveling to go work on the farms in the fields,” she says, of her time in the classroom. The Houston community is also represented through companion programming for the traveling exhibit. University lecturer Juan Galvan’s father was a bracero, and Helen Cavazos’s father was a troquero who trucked braceros to work; she now serves on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board.

There’s an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. December 8. Continuing 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. December 9 through May 14. Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline. For information, call 713-942-8000 or visit hmh.org. Free to $12.

[Organizer's description:]

Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) will open its first Spanish/English bilingual exhibit, “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964,” Friday, December 9, 2016. The exhibit showcases the bracero program, the largest guest worker program in U.S. history, which brought millions of Mexican nationals north to work on short-term labor contracts. The work was backbreaking and living conditions poor, but the program offered Mexican men economic opportunities and much-needed work. Their contributions to communities in Mexico and the U.S. have had a lasting impact on the political, economic, social, and cultural landscapes of both nations.

The exploitation of bracero workers and violations of their legal rights and civil liberties prompted efforts to repeal the program. In 1956, photographer Leonard Nadel documented the harsh realities of bracero life, intending to highlight employer violations and improve bracero working conditions. The exhibition is traveled by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and Nadel’s images provide the visuals for “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964.”

The new exhibit runs through Sunday, May 14, 2017, in the Museum’s Central Gallery at the Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. The public is invited to an opening reception held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, December 8, 2016, with opening remarks at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but advance registration is required for this reception. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online. To renew a membership or to join and attend, visit www.hmh.org, e-mail Natalia Regan at nregan@hmh.org or call 713-527-1616.

“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964,” was organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Funding was provided by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Presented locally by Wells Fargo, “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964” is also made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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