by Jessica McBirney
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions
- Jessica McBirney
This article provides a brief history of labor unions, including common tactics and important advances in workers’ rights.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Mexican Migrant Workers” and discuss the history of labor rights in the context of migrant workers, Mexican immigrants, and Mexican-American citizens. How do factors like immigration and race make collective bargaining for better treatment of workers more difficult? Why might Mexican migrant workers still face bad conditions today?
'Shut the Door' Speech
- Senator Ellison DuRant Smith
During a 1924 congressional debate on immigration, a senator from South Carolina argued that we should “shut the door and breed up a pure, unadulterated American citizen."Pair this famous speech by a Senator opposed to immigration with “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” and have students compare the perspectives of each text. How do the authors’ points of view differ? How do the tones differ? How does each author support their argument, and – in your opinion – which is stronger?
The Scholarship Jacket
- Marta Salinas
“The Scholarship Jacket” is one of the best-known stories by Mexican-American author Marta Salinas. It describes a difficult situation that Marta, a Mexican-American girl from Texas, is faced with. Marta is a straight-A student who has earned the scholarship jacket, but her financial situation – and an unjust school leader – may prevent her from receiving her reward.Pair “The Scholarship Jacket” with “Mexican Migrant Workers” to provide two different windows into the experiences of Mexican farming families, and have students discuss how prejudice plays a role in holding people back in society. How can people overcome prejudice?
The Chicano Movement
- Jessica McBirney
In this informational text, Jessica McBirney explores how the Chicano Movement emerged in the 1960s to empower Mexican Americans and created lasting change in education, workers’ rights, and politics.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “The Chicano Movement” to further students’ understanding of the Chicano movement and the need for change. Ask students to compare how the conditions faced by migrant workers are depicted in both texts.
Puerto Rican Obituary
- Pedro Pietri
In Pedro Pietri’s epic poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” Pietri describes the experiences of five Puerto Ricans in America.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “Puerto Rican Obituary” and ask students to discuss how the two texts explore the treatment of immigrants in the United States. What did people who moved to the United States expect and how did this compare to their reality? How do immigrants’ race affect their treatment in the United States? Why might Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, be treated like immigrants?
Memories Of A Former Migrant Worker
- Felix Contreras
In the interview “Memories Of A Former Migrant Worker,” Felix Contreras questions his father about his past experiences as a migrant worker.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “Memories Of A Former Migrant Worker” to provide students with additional information about the history and experiences of migrant workers in America. Ask students to discuss how the experiences of migrant workers described in “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” compare to Luis Contreras’ experiences. How have working conditions for migrants changed over time?
The Border: A Double Sonnet
- Alberto Ríos
In Alberto Ríos’ poem “The Border: A Double Sonnet,” a speaker describes a border.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “The Border: A Double Sonnet” to provide students with information about the border separating the United States and Mexico. How and why was the border established? Why did some people choose to cross the border? How do both texts explore the tension that borders can create?
Cesar Chavez: His Fight for the Farm Workers
- Barbara Bloom
In the informational text “Cesar Chavez: His Fight for Farm Workers,” Barbara Bloom discusses Cesar Chavez’s activism to improve farm workers’ rights.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “Cesar Chavez: His Fight for the Farm Workers” to provide students with additional information about migrant workers. What challenges did Mexican migrant workers face? How did Cesar Chavez help improve the lives of Mexican migrant workers?
Immigration to the United States
- Michael A. Signal
In the informational text “Immigration to the United States,” Michael A. Signal discusses the long history of people traveling to America in order to make a new life for themselves.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “Immigration to the United States” to provide students with additional information on Mexican immigrants. Ask students to discuss why people immigrated to the United States from Mexico. How does each text emphasize how immigrants from certain countries face opposition in the United States? How does “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” show how immigrants contribute to the United States?
Working the Farms
- Mike Weinstein
In “Working on the Farm: Children on the Move,” Mike Weinstein discusses the migrant children who work on farms in the United States.Pair “Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” with “Working the Farms: Children on the Move” to provide students with additional information about migrant work. How did Cesar Chavez help improve migrant workers’ rights? What problems do migrant workers, especially children, continue to face?
Trabajadores migrantes mexicanos en el siglo XX
- Jessica McBirney
“Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century” by Jessica McBirney is also available in Spanish. Click here to assign the Spanish version of this lesson. Question sets and other components may differ.