Labor Activism During the Cold War: The Case of Humberto Silex

This kit includes digital replicas of letters and court briefs from the 1949 naturalization case of Humberto Silex, a legal immigrant who was active in El Paso labor unions. Because of Mr. Silex's union activities, the U.S. government labeled him a Communist sympathizer.

The accompanying lesson plan asks students to write a letter on behalf of strikers and then to compare their letter to Mr. Silex's letter. Students analyze the government's response to Mr. Silex's letter and speculate how the government might perceive their own letters during this Cold War period immediately preceding McCarthyism.

Lesson plan

Humberto Silex's Letter to the El Paso Chamber of Commerce

Government Brief Commenting on Silex's Letter

Petitioner's Reply Brief Regarding Silex's Letter