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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
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Workshop 7: Social Justice and Action - Alma Flor Ada, Pam Munoz, and Paul Yee
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Alma Flor Ada
Biography
Work
Interview
Pam Munoz Ryan
Biography
Work
Paul Yee
Biography
Work
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Authors and Literary Works
Key references

César Chávez
César Chávez was one of many leaders of the Chicano movement. He was dedicated to his community and to the principles of achieving social change through nonviolent action. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez believed in civil disobedience as a tool for change, and used this idea in the United States during the civil rights movement and the fight for Chicano rights as well as farm workers' rights. After many years of hardship as a farm worker, in 1962 Chávez began one of his greatest projects, the National Farm Workers' Association (which later became the United Farm Workers of America). This union was meant to fight for and protect the rights of farm workers, and under Chávez's leadership it won many protections for workers in the agriculture industry through nonviolent protests such as boycotts and strikes. Chávez's motto, "Sí, se puede" ("Yes, it can be done"), demonstrates his involvement in the larger Chicano movement and his dedication to effecting change and to improving the lives of many workers.

Mexican Immigration to the United States
Mexican immigrants have been important to the United States in times of economic growth and depression. However, despite the fact that Texas and the southwestern lands were annexed largely because white Americans illegally immigrated to those areas, Mexican "immigrants" who worked as migrant farm laborers in the early 20th century, and even Mexican Americans who had been in the United States since annexation in the mid-19th century, were often in danger of being deported or treated unfairly at their jobs. However, many migrant workers were able to stay in the country and formed strong unions that started a farm labor movement. Still others worked in many other industries and contributed greatly to the U.S. economy. Their participation continued into World War II, when around five million Mexican immigrants were brought into the United States as farm workers. The United States had a labor shortage due to the war, and convinced Mexico to contract temporary workers to the government. Mexico, in turn, was implicitly promised an influx of capital that would help it on its path to modernization. However, as the possibility of wealth attracted an increasing number of Mexicans to the United States, Mexico lost control over emigration, and the United States refused to protect those workers anymore. This led to the exploitation of many Mexican laborers, the loss of promised capital for Mexico, and the continuation of its economic dependence on the United States. This can been seen in the fact that by the end of the 20th century, there were more immigrants from Mexico in the United States than from all the European countries combined.

Gold Mountain
As China faced economic and political problems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people, especially from the southeast areas of China, immigrated to North America, which they called Gold Mountain, in search of jobs and money to send back home. Most of the Chinese immigrants who came to the United States and Canada formed communities and companies based on similar languages and hometowns. However, many could only afford to come to Gold Mountain if their future employers paid for their voyage. This meant that many immigrants arrived in debt, and often they ended up as indentured servants who were sent to mining camps or into the mountains to work on the railroads until their debts were paid off. Under this system, many Chinese workers suffered harsh and dangerous working conditions, low wages, and discrimination from their bosses or other non-Chinese workers.

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