Page 99 of my dissertation, Reification, Resistance, and Transformation? The Impact of Migration and Demographics on Linguistic, Racial, and Ethnic Identity and Equity in Educational Systems: An Applied Approach, contains excerpts from participant life history interviews. I conducted these particular interviews to learn more about what brought some Tejanos (Mexican Americans from Texas) to the Central Florida region known as the Florida Heartland in the mid-20th century. These excerpts are shown at the bottom of this post, and bolded sentences mark comments especially relevant to the goal of the interview.
In the excerpts, two women in their 60s employed as Migrant Advocates in the local public school district shared why they and their families migrated to the area 50 years ago from Texas. They discussed how their families came to pick oranges or manage crews harvesting cucumbers and squash in the Florida Heartland. Because published work on the topic had discussed the movement of Tejanos to the region in the 1950s, but had not specifically identified the county in which my research was set, these interviews provide important context to understanding the role of agriculture in drawing people to the area. Agriculture continued to have a crucial role in shaping the lives of the county’s inhabitants at the time my dissertation data was collected (2014-2016).
In general, page 99 is a good reflection of what the manuscript is about—the movement or migration of peoples. At the same time, the manuscript is about more than that as I focused on how K-12 schools dealt with the movement of peoples and how the schools served linguistic, racial, ethnic, and additional groups. The reason I focused on the schools and this theme is to better understand the micro-interactional processes that socialize students toward particular identities and how these identities articulate with one another at school. Understanding how the schools reproduce inequality at the micro level can help inform approaches aiming to dissuade this social reproduction of inequality.
Rebecca: Now, what kind of work did your family do in Texas?
Maria: My father worked in ranches. They would do irrigation for the cotton. He was in charge of getting the people to pick the cotton. He did mostly field work.
He would more like, when the people would come out of from. What it was, where we lived at, there weren’t a lot of Hispanic people. There was very few. Most were white.
Rebecca: Did your parents ever talk about their grandparents or their parents?
Maria: They were born in San Antonio, Texas, too. My mother used to say they would work in fields too. In San Antonio; but, sometimes she said they would have to walk to other towns. She said sometimes it would take them three days to get where they were going. ‘They didn’t have no cars, no nothing,’ she would say.
Rebecca: Now why did you guys end up coming here in 1968?
Maria: Because my older brothers and their families were already here.
Rebecca: What brought them out here?
Maria: Picking oranges. My oldest brother came down here with another family like five or six years before we got here. My older brother. Actually, he came to Deerfield Beach. And then, from Deerfield Beach he came over here to [Central]. Well then one of my other brothers came down here. And, he stayed with him for a year or so then he went back and got my father and my mother and us ‘cause by that time were only three. My mother had ten children but the time when we came there was only three at home. Because all my other brothers and sisters were married. So, whenever we got here about two years later after we were here, when my father died, the rest of my brothers came from Texas down here.
[Maria, 61. Interview with author on July 6, 2016]
Rebecca:Okay so, you said you came here in 1970?
Ana: I think 1970, that’s when I married my husband and came this way. His parents used to do the agriculture thing, his father used to be a crew leader. They came here when he [my husband] was young ‘cause he was in school in a [Central].
Rebecca: So what year did your husband’s family come?
Ana: Well, they claim they came on the ‘60s.
Rebecca: And, they were the first Mexicanos?
Ana: Mm. And then his father brung, bring their uncle. There was another guy, he came. They, you know [woman’s name], the one that was with the school board, that run? Yeah, her family came later.
Rebecca:So, what reason did your husband’s family have to come here? What kind of work were they doing?
Ana: They were doing agriculture work. They used to travel like the other ones, you know like the other immigrants. Well, his father had a contract. And he was the contract, for those people; he’s the one that brought a lot of Hispanics and then these were from Texas. They were doing the cucumbers. And squash I think.
[Ana, 67. Interview with author on July 6, 2016]
Rebecca Campbell-Montalvo. 2016. Reification, Resistance, and Transformation? The Impact of Migration and Demographics on Linguistic, Racial, and Ethnic Identity and Equity in Educational Systems: An Applied Approach. University of South Florida, Phd.
The stable URL of my dissertation is https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/6474/.