Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964
Holocaust Museum Houston’s 20th anniversary year proved to be monumental in more ways than one. First, the museum unveiled “Taking Flight: The Butterfly Project,” an exhibition 20 years in the making, and “GENOCIDE: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind,” its first contemporary juried exhibit, both of which ran through the end of 2016. Most recently, HMH opened its first Spanish/English bilingual exhibit, “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964,” in early December.
The new exhibit runs through Sunday, May 14, 2017, in the museum’s Central Gallery. It 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. Small farmers, large growers, and farm associations in Texas and 26 other states hired braceros to provide manpower during peak harvest and cultivation times. 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.
“We’re so excited to present our first Spanish/English bilingual exhibit,” said Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, CEO of Holocaust Museum Houston. “We serve all of Houston’s diverse communities and look forward to this exhibition’s expanded outreach to our important Latin community.”
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.”
“This exhibit offers a timely exploration of an issue that is still relevant today,” said Michelle Tovar, Associate Director of Education-Spanish Outreach and Latin American Initiatives at Holocaust Museum Houston. “Bittersweet Harvest addresses an important but overlooked chapter in American history.”
“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.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Admission to Holocaust Museum Houston is free for members, children under age 6, students age 6-18, and college students with a valid student ID. Admission is discounted at $8 for seniors age 65 and up, AARP members with valid ID, and Active-Duty Military. General admission is $12. For more information about the museum or its programs, visit hmh.org. Holocaust Museum Houston is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5p.m., and Sunday, noon-5p.m. The museum is free on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2017.
Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.