Hope: Migrant Workers in DeKalb County, 1960s


The DeKalb County Journal had several articles in the late 1960s about migrant workers. The first story includes an interview with a mother whose husband was in the area working on the asparagus and tomato crops. She explained that her family moved north because wage levels in Texas were so low. Previously, her husband worked at a restaurant in Texas where he made $25 a week, but other times he could only find jobs with a weekly pay of $14. In DeKalb County, tomato pickers who worked for Del Monte were paid above minimum wage and often received a bonus at the end of the season.  

However, a “Letter to the Editor,” submitted a month after the first story, painted a different picture of the migrant experience:

DeKalb County Journal October 16, 1968.

“Most people in the DeKalb Area must not be aware to the type of housing in which these workers are forced to live, or something would have been done about this a long time ago. On one farm which I am familiar, families were living in a hog barn that had housed hogs only a short time before. Other workers lived in a shack only a few feet from the hog barn” [1]. The letter continues on to describe the terrible living conditions for many migrant workers.   

Thus, the “hope” of migrant workers was complicated. They worked long, hard hours sometimes in less than desirable housing. Yet, many felt this sacrifice would open new opportunities for their family.

[1] DeKalb County Journal, October 16, 1968.

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