David Bacon’s Photojournalism Brings Migrant Stories to Life

We know that each of our students has a story to tell—in some cases, an amazing story—of journeying to the United States and building a new life here.

David Bacon is an award-winning writer, photographer, and labor organizer who documents just such stories. His photo essays trace the lives of migrants as they make their way from countries like Mexico, Guatemala, and the Philippines to the United States.

A man from Michoacan, Mexico, picking lemons in California.
© by David Bacon

Here’s a testimony from his book Communities Without Borders: Images and Voices from the World of Migration. The speaker is a Mexican woman named Irma Luna:

When we finally arrived at my brother’s house in the United States, I thought about how far I was from home in Mexico. I looked back, saw the sun setting, and thought about my father and what he might be doing. I thought, “Why did I come so far, and how am I going to return?” Before I left, my father asked me why I wanted to leave. He said he thought we would never see each other again. My brother told him not to worry and that he would return me in a year. . . . My father was right, because we never did see him again.

Housekeepers at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
© by David Bacon

While we may think of migration as an individual choice, Bacon is interested in how the global economy drives transnational migration. His latest book is Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants. He builds his case with interviews and on-the-spot reporting, traveling from tiny villages in Mexico to agribusiness fields, hotels, and meatpacking plants in the United States. Bacon argues that U.S. trade and investment policies contribute to the conditions that uproot workers and set migration in motion.

Immigrant rights protest in Tucson, Arizona.
© by David Bacon

Bacon lets migrants speak for themselves through photos and interviews. His work may interest some of our students, and the website is also available in Spanish.

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One Response to David Bacon’s Photojournalism Brings Migrant Stories to Life

  1. kysandler says:

    Pass along this opportunity to any of your students who may have high school age children:
    3/19/11 deadline The Esperanza Fund will once again be providing $5,000
    two-year scholarships and $10,000 four-year college scholarships to immigrant
    student in Maryland. Apply at http://www.esperanzafund.org/scholarship

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