Found: Our elders' story. A group of us, descendants of Mexican families who arrived in Detroit in the '20s and '30s, celebrated the 300th birthday of Detroit by documenting the oral history of Los Repatriados, offering this tribute to our elders who were deported during the Depression. Approximately 15,000 Mexicans were voluntarily or forcefully deported between 1929 and 1939. Many who returned never talked about it, thus, it is a little-known event in our own community.
On Oct. 7, 300 people from our Mexican community went to the to the Detroit Institute of Arts to view the screening of Los Repatriados: Exiles from the Promised Land. They also participated in the first public discussion with Chicano historians and elders who themselves were deported during this sad epoch in our history. Children are asked to interview their grandparents; we are making connections with our elders and youth in ways we never dreamed possible. Artwork, theatrical productions, music and video documentaries are reflecting this lost era, now revealed to us, thanks to our elders. We hope this tale of our history serves to galvanize us and all immigrant groups for the impending scapegoating and deportations facing us now. The difference between then and now? There was no one willing to defend the Mexicans from government agencies. Because of their efforts, we are here and we will stand against such injustices: Nunca Mas! Never Again! Elena Herrada is a union organizer and political
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