Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Fred Bourland was born in 1948 and grew up in Blythe, California in a small farming community; he attended school in a split term in order to be able to work the harvest season.
Summary of Interview
He remembers working on his father’s farmland; he picked cotton, soy beans, and wheat alongside Mexican workers; buses would bring in black men who worked as choppers, while white migrant workers, worked as pickers; Mexican workers were brought in when extra labor was needed, they would be subcontracted out to smaller farms; he remembers seeing 50 to 100 men working alongside one another; the Mexican workers were housed in barracks and slept in army cots; he recalls the Farm Bureau and Extension Agents in the fields, inspecting the conditions of the workers; he states that Mexican men were hard working and essential to picking his father’s farm; he recalls men made .03 cents a pound of cotton, regardless of race; the town was segregated but Mexicans did not hangout around the town; he remembers them only going to the grocery store and returning to Mexico once their contracts ended. He explains that mechanization in the 1960s decreased the number of workers needed; he concludes by stating that he would welcome the program again and that hand picking was not abuse but hard work.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Mayra L. Avila
Interview with Fred Bourland by Julie Wise, 2008, "Interview No. 1602," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.