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Tuesdays, September 17, 24 and October 8 • 8 p.m.
LATINO AMERICANS, a landmark three-part, six-hour documentary series narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt, premieres on WOUB-TV Tuesdays, Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 7 at 8 p.m.
LATINO AMERICANS is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have for the past 500-plus years helped shape what is today the United States and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S.
LATINO AMERICANS, which is led by Emmy Award-winning series producer Adriana Bosch. A team of filmmakers will document the evolution of a new “Latino American” identity from the 1500s to the present day, with interviews with close to 100 Latinos from the worlds of politics, business and pop culture, as well as deeply personal portraits of Latinos who lived through key chapters in American history.
“It is time the Latino American history be told,” said Bosch, a Cuban-born filmmaker whose previous PBS projects include LATIN MUSIC U.S.A. and documentaries for the series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. “Latinos are an integral part of the U.S., and this series shares the stories of a rich collection of people coming from so many different countries and backgrounds. It is the story of Latinos, and it is the story of America.”
LATINO AMERICANS features interviews with an array of individuals, including entertainer Rita Moreno, the Puerto Rican star of West Side Story and a winner of Academy, Tony, Grammy and Emmy Awards; labor leader and 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dolores Huerta, who in the 1960s co-founded with César Chávez the National Farm Workers Association, which later became United Farm Workers of America; Mexican-American author and commentator Linda Chávez, who became the highest-ranking woman in the Reagan White House; and Cuban singer and entrepreneur Gloria Estefan, who has sold more than 100 million solo and Miami Sound Machine albums globally.
LATINO AMERICANS relies on historical accounts and personal experiences to vividly tell the stories of early settlement, conquest and immigration; of tradition and reinvention; of anguish and celebration; and of the creation of this new American identity with an influx of arrivals from Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and countries in Central and South America.
The series is broken into the following six chronological segments that cover the 1500s to the present day:
1. “Foreigners in Their Own Land” spans the period from 1500-1880, as the first Spanish explorers enter North America, the U.S. expands into territories in the Southwest that had been home to Native Americans and English and Spanish colonies, and as the Mexican-American War strips Mexico of half its territories by 1848.
2. “Empire of Dreams” documents how the American population begins to be reshaped by the influx of people that began in 1880 and continues into the 1940s, as Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans begin arriving in the U.S. and start to build strong Latino-American communities in South Florida, Los Angeles and New York.
3. “War and Peace” moves into the World War II years and those that follow, as Latino Americans serve their new country by the hundreds of thousands — but still face discrimination and a fight for civil rights.
4. “The New Latinos” highlights the swelling immigration from Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic that stretches from the post-World War II years into the early 1960s as the new arrivals seek economic opportunities.
5. “Prejudice and Pride” details the creation of the proud “Chicano” identity, as labor leaders organize farm workers in California, and as activists push for better education opportunities for Latinos, the inclusion of Latino studies and empowerment in the political process.
6. “Peril and Promise” takes viewers through the past 30 years, with a second wave of Cubans arriving in Miami during the Mariel exodus and with hundreds of thousands Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Guatemalans fleeing civil wars, death squads and unrest to go north into a new land — transforming the United States along the way. The debate over undocumented immigrants flares up, with a backlash that eventually includes calls for tightened borders, English-only laws and efforts to brand undocumented immigrants as felons. Simultaneously, the Latino influence is booming in music, sports, media, politics and entertainment. The largest and youngest growing sector of the American population, Latino Americans will determine the success of the United States in the 21st century.