Operation Bootstrap, a non-profit community-based organization, was founded in October 1965, just two months after the Watts rebellion, as a response to a neighborhood in distress. The 1968 documentary captures Bootstrap’s mission of economic development with scenes of women and men training for a range of employment opportunities including how to operate power sewing machines for work in the local garment factory, to the new technologies of the day, the IBM keypunch machines. Especially engaging are the scenes of “sensitivity sessions” hosted by the organization, where black and white Angelenos debate issues of race and racism in 1960s America. The film’s cinéma-vérité style allows for a certain closeness with its subject and allows for a precious time capsule glimpse into this vibrant and struggling community.
This documentary analyzes the origins of the Puerto Rican economic development plan of the 1960’s, better known as Manos a la Obra (or Operation Bootstrap). The film examines this economic plan within the framework of Puerto Rican society, with special emphasis on the mass migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland.