Friday, November 25, 1960: 'Harvest of Shame'

The documentary on migrant farm workers in the United States is broadcast on CBS the day after Thanksgiving. Journalist Edward R. Murrow narrates, opening with these words over footage of workers: "This is not taking place in the Congo. It has nothing to do with Johnannesburg or Cape Town. It is not Nyasaland or Nigeria. This is Florida. These are citizens of the United States, 1960. This is a shape-up for migrant workers. The hawkers are chanting the going piece rate at the various fields. This is the way the humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world get hired. One farmer looked at this and said, 'We used to own our slaves. Now we just rent them.' " The hour-long telecast, shocking to many viewers, immediately leads to a greater public and political awareness of the workers' lives. (In 1962, Congress would pass the Migrant Health Act, providing support for clinics serving agricultural workers.)

* Watch "Harvest of Shame": @
* The show and its impact, from "Investigated Reporting" (book): @
* Summary from "History in the Media" (book): @
* "The Excluded Americans" (Time magazine, December 5): @
* New York Times review: @

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