El Norte

The topic of immigration, particularly from Mexico, has been highly controversial in the United States for years. Lately, it has been grabbing news headlines because President Obama presented as new plan for immigration reform. America’s neighbor to the south, Mexico, continues to have working and living problems that drive many Mexicans to chance crossing the border into the U.S. without legal documentation. Over the years, stricter border patrol and brutal drug wars have made it more difficult and dangerous for Mexicans to cross the border safely and successfully. However, illegal immigration persists.

According to R. Conrad Stein, author of The Story of Mexico: Modern Mexico, published by Morgan Reynolds, for the Mexican poor there has long been an understandable attraction for el norte, the United States.

Inflation has ravaged the Mexican peso in the past few decades. Although it has recovered some, the cost of living keeps going up at a rapid pace. “To most Mexicans it was a matter of simple arithmetic. A man pushing a wheel barrel at a construction site in Mexico earned six or seven dollars a day, whereas the same work north of the border paid that much an hour. It was a matter of survival.”

For years, Stein writes, even after there were efforts made to beef up border patrol, the migrants still came. “They waded across the Rio Grand and climbed barbed wire fences. They crawled through sewer pipes. They endured freezing nights in the windswept Arizona deserts. They hid in shipping crates, car trunks, and railroad boxcars to make the crossing.”

Gangs fighting over the highly lucrative drug trade have added yet another dangerous obstacle to migrants. Immigrants who are found in a gang’s territory are often made to be drug mules—to carry the narcotics across the border. Or they are shot on sight.

Stein writes that Americans are the # 1 reason narcotics have become so lucrative in Mexico. “Mexican narcotics gangs smuggled illegal drugs—cocaine, heroin, and marijuana—over the border to their contacts in the United States. Americans consume more illegal drugs than the citizens of any other nation in the world. The business of drug smuggling was [and is] fantastically lucrative, bringing Mexican narco gangs an estimated $14 billion a year . . . .”

Despite all the obstacles, illegal immigration continues. To develop a fuller understanding of the forces that drive Mexican immigration one needs to be informed of history of Mexico and its relationship with the United States. The Story of Mexico, a series of eight books written by Stein, provides an excellent introduction to the subject.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor


The Story of Mexico: The Mexican Revolution  

(ISBN: 9781599350516)

The Story of Mexico: Benito Juarez and the French Intervention

(ISBN: 9781599350523)

The Story of Mexico: Cortes and the Spanish Conquest

(ISBN: 9781599350530)

The Story of Mexico: The Mexican War of Independence

(ISBN: 9781599350547)

The Story of Mexico: Modern Mexico

(ISBN: 9781599351629)

The Story of Mexico: The Mexican-American War 

(ISBN: 9781599351605)

The Story of Mexico: Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

(ISBN: 9781599351636)

The Story of Mexico: Ancient Mexico

(ISBN: 9781599351612)

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires.” -Smokey the Bear

The cover of Extreme Threats: Wildfires

In Texas, wildfires have destroyed 2.2 million acres and more than four hundred homes this year, according to the Texas Forest Service. In the eastern part of our own home state, North Carolina, wildfires have raged across 21,000 acres, causing poor air quality as far west as the Raleigh/Durham area.

‘Tis the season for wildfires. With summer on the horizon, heat indexes will soar and so will the threat of fire.

According to Kevin Cunningham, author of the Morgan Reynolds book Extreme Threats: Wildfires, “The term wildfire means a fire that takes place in an underdeveloped or wild area.”

The problem is, these areas that are affected by wildfires, while less populated than urban areas, are not exactly wild. People do live in these areas, and have for years. In the last century, the battle between human and fire has become more and more prevalent as our population grows.

Cunningham writes that a wildfire is “by definition untamed, a force of nature that comes into existence and then sustains itself at the nexus where heat, oxygen, and fuel interact.”

He goes on, “[T]oday a great deal of the damage occurs at the forest’s edge, where human development bumps up against wild areas that are prone to burning—that in some cases evolved to burn—and that have become more dangerous because of, rather than in spite of, human activities.”

Humans can live in harmony with this, one of nature’s threats, but that would mean making compromises. But are we willing to change our lifestyles in order to remain safe?

James Smalley of the National Fire Prevention Association once said, “[P]eople who live in natural settings don’t quite get it yet—that you can adapt, that you can still have a natural beautiful setting. You have to understand that fire is part of the natural landscape. So you have to adapt.”

Cunningham writes, “The obvious solution to the problem—moving human settlements away from wildlands—will never happen. Living close to nature is for many part of the American Dream.”

We are not a species that likes to settle. But we have to accept that the world is getting smaller by the minute, and we have to make certain sacrifices—like where we live, and how we life—in order to keep threats such as wildfires from becoming disasters.

Jack Cohen, of the U.S. Forest Service, said, “We have the ability to be compatible with fire. But we mostly choose not to be . . . . Our expectations, desires, and perceptions are inconsistent with the natural reality.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about wildfires and prevention, please check out Extreme Threats: Wildfires (ISBN: 978-1-59935-120-9).

Check out the rest of the series too!

Extreme Threats: Volcanoes by Don Nardo                                                                 (ISBN 978-1-59935-118-6)

Extreme Threats: Climate Change by Don Nardo                                                      (ISBN 978-1-5935-119-3)

Extreme Threats: Asteroids and Comets by Don Nardo                                          (ISBN 978-1-59935-121-6)

Published in: on May 12, 2011 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

“You don’t have to ride Jim Crow!”- Bayard Rustin and George Houser

Freedom Riders gather outside of their burning bus in Anniston, Alabama. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Freedom Rides, a series of acts that openly defied segregation in the South.

As David Aretha, author of Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides, published by Morgan Reynolds, puts it, “The story of the Freedom Rides began when an African American woman refused to give up her seat to a white person on a crowded bus. And her name was not Rosa Parks.”

Aretha continues, “Irene Morgan was a twenty-seven-year-old mother of two who worked in a factory that made bombers for the military. That July, after traveling to Virginia, she returned to her home in Baltimore aboard a Greyhound bus. When the bus became crowded, the driver told her to stand so that a white person could take her seat. After Morgan refused the command, the driver summoned the police.”

Irene Morgan was arrested but her case, Morgan v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court—which ruled that segregated seating in interstate travel was unconstitutional.

According to Aretha, “This case caught the attention of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). . . . Believers in the teachings of Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, they were committed to fighting racial injustice through nonviolent protest.”

In 1947, CORE staged the Journey of Reconciliation, what is often called the original Freedom Ride, to test the Supreme Court’s decision outside the courtroom and in the real world. CORE members “knew that Southerners had ignored the Morgan ruling, and they wanted to force the issue. If they were arrested, then attorneys and media could bring attention to the injustice.” Fourteen years later, that desire to attract the media would prove vital to turning the tides in Americans’ eyes regarding segregation and civil rights.

The Journey of Reconciliation was not entirely successful, in fact it led to the travelers’ arrests rather than justice, but it also paved the way for the Freedom Rides of 1961. “CORE wanted to put ‘the movement on wheels . . . to cut across state lines and establish the position that we were entitled to act any place in the country,” Aretha writes, “no matter where we hung our hat and called home, because it was our country.’”

And so they did. On May 4, 1961, thirteen Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C., headed for Alabama–the Deep South. When the buses stopped in Alabama, they were attacked by angry white mobs that included several members of the Ku Klux Klan. Several of the Riders were hospitalized and many were beaten to near death, but their suffering caught the attention of the nation at large.

“The Freedom Riders had paid a heavy price, but they finally received the national attention they had been seeking. . . images of the burning bus and bloodied riders appeared in newspapers and on television. . . . .To African Americans, the publicity that the Freedom Rides were creating was doing a world of good. This was revolutionary. After three hundred years of oppression, black Americans were shaping their destiny,” writes Aretha.

The more Freedom Rides took place, however, the less news coverage there was. Eventually, the media moved on.

But what the Freedom Riders did that summer changed the country permanently. Aretha writes, “Though these Freedom Riders no longer commanded the national spotlight, their persistence and large numbers had a cumulative effect… their ‘capacity to suffer’ wore down the opposition. Some whites in the South were tired of fighting these battles. And as the Freedom Rides continued, Americans of all races and creeds railed against southern segregation.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides (ISBN 978-1-59935-098-1) is part of the award -winning series, The Civil Rights Movement (ISBN 978-1-59935-073-8) , published by Morgan Reynolds Publishing. The series also includes:

Marching in Birmingham                                                                                                       ISBN 978-1-59935-055-4

Selma and the Voting Rights Act                                                                                        ISBN 978-1-59935-056-1

The Murder of Emmett Till                                                                                                     ISBN 978-1-59935-057-8

The Trial of the Scottsboro Boys                                                                                         ISBN 978-1-59935-058-5

Freedom Summer                                                                                                                      ISBN 978-1-59935-059-2

Montgomery Bus Boycott                                                                                                      ISBN 978-1-59935-020-2

Black Power                                                                                                                                 ISBN 978-1-59935-164-3

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,