"The Forgotten People" - Dale Wright - New York World Telegram & Sun



Reporter Dale Wright spent six months working on and off as a migrant worker along the Atlantic Seaboard for this series, which examines the conditions, exploitation, and legislation (and its effectiveness) of migrant laborer life. 

("The Forgotten People..A Report on Migrant Labor" by Dale Wright. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Dale Wright, c/o K.E. Wright-King ©1961, New York World-Telegram and Sun.)


Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper

Effects and Outcomes

Wright's reporting inspired his book, "They Harvest Despair," published four years later. As he recalled in the book's preface, he "lived, worked, ate, and more than once suffered with crews of transient harvesters on long journeys that ended in the rich, black vegetable fields of Eastern Long Island." His reportage, he said, caused "a national furor" with its "long, hard, painstaking look at the migrant farm worker along the Atlantic seaboard."
Two New York congressmen, the Democrats John V. Lindsay and William Fitts Ryan, had the series entered into the Congressional Record and three different social service agaencies distributed "tens of thousands" of copies in pamphlet form. The American Newspaper Guild cited the series as one of the two most distinguished pieces of reporting of 1961 in the United States or Canada, awarding Wright two Heywood Broun Memorial awards for that year. Other prizes for the series included the Society for the Silurians and the Paul Tobenkin awards for distingished public service. The newspaper nominated the series for the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. In addition, Wright reported that after the series ran, both New York and New Jersey took remedial steps to reorganize their migrant farm-labor programs, including, in New York's case, pilot programs and teams of experts sent to acquaint workers with their rights and responsibilities.

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