Tuesday, January 17

Showtime: 7:00 PM

Chautauqua Community House

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Immigration in many ways was the lifeblood of Colorado. The late 19th century brought a diverse group of immigrants to Colorado who often took on the toughest and most dangerous jobs – building railroads, mining for gold, silver, and coal, working in the smelters, farming and ranching. Native Americans experienced the massive immigration of the Colorado Gold Rush with devastating effects. Colorado Chinese workers faced discrimination fueled by a growing anti-Asian national sentiment that resulted in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. A post-World War I nativist movement in Colorado triggered a backlash against immigrants and fueled the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The Immigration Act of 1924 set quotas on immigrants from southern and eastern European countries. In addition it restricted African immigration and banned Arab and Asian immigration. The Bracero program in World War II and afterward brought temporary Mexican workers to Colorado for jobs in the sugar beet fields. The fear and resentment against particular immigrant groups created tensions that defined much of the state’s history. Immigration continues to be a critical piece of Colorado’s development. Join a scholar of the American West for a look at the patterns of immigration in Colorado’s past.

About the Speaker:

A fourth generation Coloradan, Tom Thomas holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Colorado.  His 25-year career at the National Park Service has him leading projects for sites including the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Hovenweep National Monument, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. He teaches United States History at CU Boulder and has also taught the history of the American West, History of Colorado and the American Revolution. Thomas is currently a faculty member in the Kittredge and Libby Hall Residential Academic Programs at CU.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.