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Latino Americans: 500 Years of History: Latino Americans PBS Documentary

Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, a public programming initiative produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, is part of an NEH initiative, The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square

The Documentary

Latino Americans : 500 Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation

LATINO AMERICANS is a landmark six-hour documentary featuring interviews with nearly 100 Latinos and more than 500 years of History. It is a production of WETA Washington, DC; Bosch and Co., Inc.; and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB); in association with Independent Television Service (ITVS).  To watch the videos, scroll down for each episode or click here.

Episode One

I. Foreigners in their Own Land (1565-1880)

One hundred years after Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean, Spanish Conquistadors and Priests, push into North America in search of gold and to spread Catholicism. With the arrival of the British in North America, the two colonial systems produce contrasting societies that come in conflict as Manifest Destiny pushes the U.S into the Mexican territories of the South West...

 

Episode Five

V. Prejudice and Pride (1965-1980)

In the 1960s and 1970s a generation of Mexican Americans, frustrated by persistent discrimination and poverty, find a new way forward, through social action and the building of a new "Chicano" identity. The movement is ignited when farm workers in the fields of California, led by César Chavez and Dolores Huerta, march on Sacramento for equal pay and humane working conditions...

Episode Two

II. Empire of Dreams (1880-1942)

Widespread immigration to the U.S. from Latin countries begins – first with a small group from Cuba, then a larger one from Mexico. Both flee chaos and violence in their home country and are attracted by opportunities in the United States. In 1898, the U.S. helps liberate Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain but then seizes Puerto Rico as its colony...

 

Episode Six

VI. Peril and Promise (1980-2000)

In the 80s the nature of the Latino Diaspora changes again. From Cuba a second wave of refugees to United States – the Mariel exodus – floods Miami . The same decade sees the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans (Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans) fleeing death squads and mass murders at home like activist, Carlos Vaquerano. By the early 1990s, a political debate over illegal immigration – has begun. Globalization, empowered by NAFTA, means that as U.S. manufacturers move south, Mexican workers head north in record numbers. A backlash ensues: tightened borders, anti-bilingualism, state laws to declare all illegal immigrants felons. But a sea change is underway: the coalescence of a new phenomenon called Latino American culture-as Latinos spread geographically and make their mark in music, sports, politics, business, and education....

Episode Three

III. War and Peace (1942-1954)

World War II is a watershed event for Latino Americans with hundreds of thousands of men and women serving in the armed forces, most fighting side by side with Anglos. In the Pacific, East L.A.'s Guy Gabaldon becomes a Marine Corp legend when he singlehandedly captures more enemy soldiers than anyone in US military history. But on the home front, discrimination is not dead: in 1943, Anglo servicemen battle hip young "Zoot suitors" in racially charged riots in southern California...

 

Episode Four

IV. The New Latinos (1946-1965)

Until World War II, Latino immigration to the United States was overwhelmingly Mexican-American. Now three new waves bring large-scale immigration from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. As the Puerto Rican government implements a historic overhaul over a million Puerto Ricans are encouraged to leave for the US mainland, to alleviate the economic pressure. A young Juanita Sanabria arrives in New York, works hard in the garment district, but encounters hostility and discrimination. Ethnic tensions explode in youth gang warfare depicted in films like West Side Story, etching the stereotype of the knife wielding Puerto Rican in the American consciousness...