From Beets to Bayonets: Colorado’s War on Migrant Labor

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In the early twentieth century, Colorado led the nation in sugar production, thanks to beets harvested by migrant workers across the state. During the Great Depression, however, some state officials felt that jobs in Colorado should be held by Coloradans rather than outsiders from other states or countries. A campaign to rid the state of migrant workers, predominantly Hispanic, included talk of a state-run concentration camp near Golden and culminated in a blockade of the state boundary with New Mexico. The bitter and often vicious effort failed, but it exposed cultural and economic divisions in Colorado that resonate nearly a century later. Join Dr. Derek R. Everett of MSU-Denver and Colorado State University to explore the Depression-era war against ethnic migrant labor in Colorado, why it failed, and what lessons it offers for today and tomorrow. Dr. Derek R. Everett, a Colorado native who grew up in Arvada, teaches in the History Departments at Metro State in Denver and Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He has published books on western state boundaries and the Colorado State Capitol, and researches and writes on various subjects of Colorado and western American history.

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