Ken Burns Classroom

Okies

Ken Burns Film: The Dust Bowl Prohibition

Collections: The Great Depression and WWII (1929-1945)

Subject: Language Arts Music History US History

Grade Level: 7-12

Video Run Time: 6:20

Woody Guthrie sings “I Ain’t Got No Home” and talks of how the migrant families traveling to California inspired him. The immigrant population explodes in California as thousands of people move there to find work and a better life. Those from the Dust Bowl, whether they are from Oklahoma or not, are called “Okies.” Many face prejudice similar to that experienced by African Americans in the “sundown” towns of the southern Plains. The migrants live in “Little Oklahomas” and “Okievilles” and they move with the harvests, traveling up to a thousand miles in a season and finding themselves at the mercy of the contractors who conspire with growers to drive down field workers’ wages.