"Latino Americans," a landmark three-part, six-hour documentary series narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt, will premiere Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN). The following episodes will air Tuesdays, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1, beginning at 7 p.m. The series will also be broadcast nationally in Spanish on Vme, the Spanish-language channel.
"Latino Americans" is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos. Now numbering more than 50 million people and the largest minority group in the U.S., Latino Americans have helped shape the country for more than 500 years.
Led by Emmy Award-winning series producer Adriana Bosch, "Latino Americans" documents the evolution of a new "Latino American" identity from the 1500s to the present day. The series features interviews with nearly 100 Latinos from the realms of politics, business and pop culture – including Herman Badillo, Dolores Huerta, Gloria Estefan and Rita Moreno – as well as deeply personal portraits of lesser-known Latinos who were witnesses to key chapters in American history.
Documentaries featured in the series include the following:
"Foreigners in Their Own Land" – Spanning the period from 1565-1880, the documentary explores the changing roles of Latino Americans from the first Spanish explorers' entrance into North America; through U.S. expansion into Southwestern territories that had been home to Native American, English and Spanish colonies; and into the conflict of the Mexican-American War, which stripped Mexico of half its territories by 1848. Tuesday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m.
"Empire of Dreams" – Documenting how the American population began to be reshaped by the influx of Cuban, Mexican and Puerto Rican people from the 1880s through the 1940s, this film explores how these individuals' arrival heralded the creation of strong Latino-American communities in south Florida, Los Angeles and New York. Tuesday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m.
"War and Peace" – In this powerful documentary viewers can investigate how, during World War II and in the years that followed, Latino Americans served their new country by the hundreds of thousands while still facing discrimination and a fight for civil rights in the United States. Tuesday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m.
"The New Latinos" – Focusing on the post-World War II era through the early 1960s, this film highlights the swelling of immigration from Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic and follows the new arrivals' search for economic opportunities. Tuesday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.
"Prejudice and Pride" – Detailing the creation of the proud "Chicano" identity, this film investigates key contributing movements, including labor leaders' organization of farm workers in California, activists' push for better education opportunities for Latinos, the fight for inclusion of Latino studies and the work for Latino empowerment in the political process. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m.
"Peril and Promise" – The final documentary in the series takes viewers through the past 30 years of Latino American history, beginning with a second wave of Cubans arriving in Miami during the Mariel exodus and continues as hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Guatemalans flee to a new land – transforming the United States along the way. The film also follows the debate over undocumented immigrants, and the corresponding backlash that eventually included calls for tightened borders, English-only laws and efforts to brand undocumented immigrants as a drain on public resources. The film details the boom of Latino influence in business, sports, media, politics and entertainment, while looking to how the largest and youngest growing sector of the American population will determine the success of the United States in the 21st century. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m.
A companion book by Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for "PBS NEWSHOUR," will be released to coincide with the series. The television broadcast will also be accompanied by a nationwide public engagement initiative and bilingual digital engagement and public education campaigns. Additional information is available at pbs.org/latino-americans.