[Marxism] PBS documentary on Latinos
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 17 08:00:12 MDT 2013
NY Times September 16, 2013
The Hidden History of a Substantial Minority
By ANITA GATES
Have you ever heard about the American pilot who took off from an
aircraft carrier on Dec. 7, 1941, for a routine check of its next port,
Pearl Harbor? His last words were a desperate “Hold your fire” message,
just before he was shot down — no one is sure by which side — as one of
the first American casualties of World War II. That was Ensign Manuel
Gonzales, as viewers will learn through “Latino Americans,” an important
and enlightening three-part, six-hour PBS documentary that begins on
Then there was the soldier who in 1836 shouted, “Remember the Alamo!”
and led a regiment in Sam Houston’s Republic of Texas Army to victory
over Santa Anna’s Mexican forces. You know: Juan Seguín. And the World
War II hero who won the Silver Star for capturing 1,500 Japanese
prisoners of war. That was Guy Gabaldon, a Mexican-American who, in the
movie about his exploits (“Hell to Eternity,” 1960), was played by the
blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter.
For those who sometimes imagine that Latinos arrived in the United
States in the 1950s, just in time to audition for “West Side Story,” it
is a particular revelation that Latino American history goes back quite
a bit further and has been, to a distressing degree, Anglo-washed. The
documentary’s story moves along quickly, though: by the third hour, Dr.
Hector Garcia is working with the Johnson administration in the 1960s.
“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 the successful adults — like the
actress-singer-dancer Rita Moreno, whose acceptance of her Oscar in 1962
we see at least three times — and then are familiarized with their
backgrounds. Ms. Moreno was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York
with her mother when she was 5. In one case, though, we hear about an
activist’s early years first. In 1946 a Navy war veteran everyone called
C. C. desegregated a movie theater in Delano, Calif., just by taking a
seat one night in the middle section with the Anglos. After this story,
we learn that C. C. was Cesar Chavez.
By the middle of the 21st century, there 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).
More information about the Marxism