Harvest Of Shame, an interesting and touching black and white documentary from the early 1960’s, documents and exposes the deploring lives of thousands of American migrant cultural workers narrated and dissected by one of the best and first American broadcast journalists called Edward Roscoe Murrow. The principal objective of this movie is not only to show the poor and miserable lives that all of these people live, but to let all the other Americans who are above these workers on the social and wealth scale know that the people who pick up their fruits, vegetables, and grains have no voice, no power, and no help to battle the inequities and mistreatment they receive.
The movie opens up with rural images of thousands of migrant workers being transported in trucks with a short introduction by Edward Murrow and some occasional interventions of parts of an interview made to the secretary of labor after he saw the impacting images, and to the different people who have seen the lives the workers lead. Most of the secretary’s commentaries depict the exclusion that these people have since they are basically people who are silently crying out for assistance to stop harvesting the fields of their shame, or at least to hope for potential raises and better work conditions. From Florida to New Jersey, and from Mexico to Oregon, these people including women and children travel around the states following the sun and the demand from the seasonal goods while working around a hundred and thirty-six days earning and average of nine hundred dollars a year.
After this short but powerful preface, the documentary continues with two shocking interviews made by David Lowe to two under-educated women who are the heads of their families; Ms. Dobey, who works with all of her family picking cherries and strawberries in the north, and Ms. King, a women who has to leave her nine-year old kid taking care of her three other children in the small houses the labor camps have while she works picking beans during the day. The interviewer asks them different questions about their lifestyles after he finds to his surprise that these big families with kids from all ages will continue to have her aspirations broken due to the cyclical labyrinth that the relationship between cheap labor and high demand creates for them limiting their opportunities and even their diets and time, as Ms. Dobey explained that they sometimes could not afford to get basic nutritious goods as milk, and Ms. Dobey expressed she could not spend time with her children because she would not have money to buy food and she could not also leave her kids in the nursery because she does not earn the money to pay for both food and nursery.
Subsequent to these experiences, Edward Murrow starts to focus his attention on the labor camps and the places where the farmers stay from time to time while David Lowe keeps interviewing more people. Sadly...