The Bracero Monument

Dan Medina, dedicated September 29, 2019. Migrant's Bend Plaza, Cesar Estrada Chavez Avenue and North Spring Street, Los Angeles.

 

Text from the plaque: "On August 4, 1942, the United States signed the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement with Mexico. With the signing of the Agreement, the "Bracero Program" was established as a temporary guest-worker program to fulfill the United States' worker shortages in farms, mines and rail yards during World War II. The Agreement was extended with the Migrant Labor Agreement of 1951 as the need for cheap labor continued after World War II. The Bracero Program was terminated in 1964.

 

During the life of the Bracero Program (1942-1964), more than 4.5 million guest-worker contracts were fulfilled by Mexican laborers known as "Braceros." The Spanish term bracero means "manual laborer" or "one who works using his arms." Braceros endured great personal sacrifice, leaving loved ones behind in Mexico and working in harsh conditions with little pay. They continued to arrive in the United States as laborers after the Bracero Program ended. Many eventually brought their families and settled throughout the United States.

 

While the Bracero Program created one of the largest population movements in history, and the sacrifice that millions of Braceros made during the Bracero Program has rarely been recognized to date, the City of Los Angeles, a City of immigrants, acknowledges the blood, sweat and tears that Braceros have endured to assist the United States in its time of need.


The design is composed of 3 elements. The top center depicts the noble strength of the lone Bracero, wiping sweat from the back of his neck dressed in the common garb of a laborer. His body is strong but weary, his face is worn but firm and resolute. He looks off in the distance for a brief moment remembering his home far beyond the horizon's line reflecting the family he misses and loves. To his lower left his family, love and culture that was left behind in Mexico. It's a tribute to the sacrifice both he and his family have made for the chance for a better tomorrow. His wife holds their son as he reaches out for his father's hand as they are separated by vast bodies of land and the uncertainty of tomorrow. The right lower side represents the cold tools of industry and exploitation. Whether it was the rumbling of the train wheels, the back breaking strain of the short hoe, the scorching summer heat upon their bodies, Braceros earned their place in American history. [The text on the plaque repeats in Spanish.]

 

Commissioned by Councilmember Jose Huizar, 14th District, in partnershpi with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs/ Supporters: Union Binacional de Ex-Braceros 1942-1964. Sponsos: La Plaza Village, Holland Partners. Sculptor: Dan Medina."

 

Migrant's Bend Plaza contains textual plaques set into the sidewalk, with references to non-Caucasian migrant and immigrant experiences from cultural artifacts referencing excerpts from the following works: Cherrie Moraga's Loving in the War Years; Deborah A. Miranda's Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir; Judy Yung, Gordon H. Chang, Him Mark Lai (eds) Chinese American Voices, From the Gold Rush to the Present; John Yau's Radiant Silhouette: New and Selected Work 1974-1988; Dhan-Gopal Mukerji's Caste and Outcast; Carlos Bulosan's America is in the Heart; Lawrence Distasi (ed) Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment During World War II; Larry Tye's Rising From the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Middle Class; Victor Hugo Green's The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Guide; S. Beth Atkin's Voices From the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories

 

       

        


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