American Latinos is a beautiful PBS production colorful, historically accurate,uplifting, entertaining and engaging . Yet besides discovering Latino heritage it uncovers a forgotten past.
Contrary to the belief of many present North Americans the story of Latinos and Hispanics in the US doesn’t start mid XXth. Century or with the crossing of illegals through the border. Latino Americans and Hispanic history goes way back when Texas, California, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada (more than half of the US territory) were part of Mexico or under Spanish rule and booming with Hispanic farmers, ranchers and specialized workers.Many of these Hispanics were descendants of people who had lived in these territories for centuries. Despite the promise of protecting Latino and Hispanic rights after the Mexican American war ended, they were kicked off their own land by white pioneers and frontier men who saw them as second class citizens because of the color of their skin.
Half of the US plus Puerto Rico and Florida have had a significant Spanish influence and Spanish has been spoken in these places for more years than English. Latinos and Hispanics in mid 19th century didn’t cross any border, the border crossed them. Sometimes Latinos have been welcomed in the US as low wage workers and even encouraged by the American Government but in times of economic strife , Latinos have been the only immigrants targeted and massively deported.
This is the PBS review in the NY Times:
“Latino Americans” is the kind of polished, intelligent documentary series that PBS does so well. The format is a traditional one now, with vintage film clips, zooms and pans of old paintings and photographs, and an assortment of thoughtful talking heads. But this time, those heads belong to historians named García, Montejano and Ruiz; political organizers named Gutierrez, Velásquez and Esparza; academics named Padrón; and journalists named Suárez and Salinas. Adriana Bosch, the documentary’s Emmy Award-winning producer, moved to the United States from Cuba in 1970.
Most of the time, we meet successful Hispanics that have made part of American society in the movies, T.V. , politics,music, sports as civil leaders etc.
By the middle of the 21st century, they are expected to be about 127 million Latino-Americans, nearly 30 percent of the projected United States population. Some Latinos see today as “the Hispanic moment” and urge that opportunities be seized now or lost. The second and third parts of “Latino Americans,” whose subjects include Chavez, the Chicano movement, the Dominican Republic, Central America, the battles against bilingualism and the Mariel boat lift, will be shown next Tuesday and on Oct. 1.”
On PBS stations on Tuesday nights (check local listings). You can also download it on iTunes. It’s worth it!
Produced by WETA Washington, Bosch & Company Inc. and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB). Jeff Bieber and Dalton Delan, executive producers for WETA; Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive producer for LPB; Adriana Bosch, series producer; Salme Lopez, supervising producer; Nina Alvarez, Dan McCabe, Ray Telles and John Valadez, producers; Sabrina Avilés, Yvan Iturriaga and Monika Navarro, associate producers. For re-enactment sequences: David Belton and Sonia Fritz, directors; Cathleen O’Connell, producer. Benjamin Bratt, narrator.