- Hispanic Americans were immigrants from Spanish speaking countries or descendants of Spanish-speaking Americans.
- The largest hispanic group of the time were Mexican Americans.
- Mexico was very poor compared to the USA, and many Mexicans immigrated to the USA in hope of better wages that could be used help support their families.
- There were high levels of immigration in the early 1900s, during the Depression, and during and after the Second World War.
- The form of work that many Mexican immigrants did was Agricultural labour.
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- In 1942 the bracero programme was introduced, and brought thousands of Mexicans to the US to work as contract labourers on farms.
- Many Mexican immigrants were concentrated in the states close to their homeland (Arizona, California, Colorado, etc.)
- The bracero programme ended in 1964, however many Mexicans decided to stay and settle in the US.
- In 1965 the US Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which resulted in an influx of immigrants,
- The Family Reunification Clause also meant that the families of immigrants living in the US could move to the US.
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Many Mexicans suffered from:
- High unemployment
- Ill treatment
- Low wages in the workplace
- Poor housing
- Educational segregation
- Discrimination by the police
- Were discouraged from joining trade unions or political parties
- Under-represented in local politics
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- In the 60s, Reies Tijerina launched a legal campaign to return large areas of land to the Chicanos. His campaign was defeated by intimidation and legal action, however, it helped to highlight the issue of the state of Chicanos in the USA. It also appealed to the interests of young Chicanos, and gave them a sense of pride and unity.
- Rodolfo Gonzales founded the Crusade for Justice in 1966. He also led the Poor Peoples March in Washington 1968. He inspired many Chicanos to protest against the injustices they faced.
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- He was the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association.
- In 1966 he led a grape pickers strike, as they wanted higher wages and safer working conditions.
- Believed in non-violent action, and he himself went on a hunger strike.
- The strike lasted five years, and brought national attention. It helped the cause gain the support of Senator Robert Kennedy.
- In the early 1970s bargaining agreements were signed by many farmers to agree that they'd pay their labourers better wages.
- His actions led to similar activities in Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
- Despite his work Chicanos were still some of the poorest and most discriminated against people in American society.
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High school blow outs
- Very few Chicanos went to college after high school.
- Many Chicano schools had high drop out rates.
- They were segregated from white students, has crumbling school buildings and lacked Mexican teachers.
- In March 1968 student activists organised a mass walkout of Chicano students in eastern Los Angeles. It was a success and there was high coverage of the event on TV and in newspapers.
- Despite this the walkouts failed to achieve their aims.
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