The Before Silicon Valley Project: Mexican Cannery & Agricultural Workers of Santa Clara County, 1920-1960
Celebrate November’s Giving Tuesday Month by contributing to the completion of The Before Silicon Valley Project’s Mexican American Civil Rights Mini Documentary!
On Cesar Chavez Day March 31, 2023, we will launch the Before Silicon Valley Project: Mexican Cannery & Agricultural Workers of Santa Clara County, 1920-1960 bilingual website hosted by the AACNA Center at San Jose State University Library. The website will feature an online exhibit and a four-part mini-documentary series that highlights the little documented history of Mexican migration, work, housing, entertainment and civil rights activism in Santa Clara County from the 1920s to the 1960s.
With your support we can finish the last and most significant mini-documentary: Civil Rights: Ernesto Galarza & The National Farm Labor Union, the GI Forum, the C.S.O. and the Rise of Cesar Chavez.
We have already completed three mini-documentaries, based on over 80 oral history interviews, hundreds of digitized photos and newsreel footage. Here are a few short clips from Cannery Workers, Cannery Lives; Music and Bands; and Migration, Housing, Orchard and Field Work, featuring:
·Sid Duran, a stylish zoot suit wearing veterano and community organizer who shared his family’s story of arriving in California and working in the fields and orchards of Santa Clara County
·Yvonne Brooks and Rudy Coronado, two talented artists from San José’s Big Band Era that performed at many of the area’s ballrooms and night clubs by night and worked in the canneries by day,
·Angela Lopez and Enedina Flores, who shared their experiences as working women building homes and families around cannery life.
Before “Silicon Valley,” Santa Clara County was the largest fruit-producing and processing region in the United States. Although Mexicans provided a majority of the labor force for this cannery and agricultural center, little of this history is in books, archives, or on the internet, and few materials have been digitized. That is why all of the materials collected in our research will be donated to the AACNA Center and accessible to the public at the end of the project.
We appreciate the many people who have already contributed their stories, photos, and funds to support our project.
We thank our sponsor San Jose Parks Foundation and our collaborators San José State Library AACNA Center and Arhoolie Foundation.
Please contribute, share and follow our project online, via Facebook, Instagram, and the new website. You can also listen to NPR, which will feature a special edition on our Project in the California Report, released sometime this Fall 2022 or Winter/Spring 2023 before Website launch.
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Margo McBane, PhD, Project Co-Director
Emeritus Lecturer in History / San José State University
Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, Project Co-Director
Director, AAACNA Studies Center - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San José State University