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PBS series 'Latino Americans' to air beginning next week

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Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:31 pm

"Latino Americans," a three-part, six-hour documentary series narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt, will air nationally on PBS on three consecutive Tuesdays, premiering on Tuesday (Sept. 17), Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. on Basin PBS, according to a release from Basin PBS. The series will also be broadcast nationally in Spanish on Vme, the Spanish-language channel on public television, over six consecutive Fridays beginning on Sept. 20.

"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.

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. A preview of the series is available at pbs.org/latino-americans.

"Latino Americans" is led by Emmy Award-winning series producer Adriana Bosch and documents the evolution of a new “Latino American” identity from the 1500s to the present day, featuring interviews with close to 100 Latinos from the worlds 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 lived through key chapters in American history.

“In six episodes of first-rate television, 'Latino Americans' covers centuries of history about native-born Latinos and immigrants from throughout the Americas,” said Bosch, a Cuban-born filmmaker whose previous PBS projects include "Latin Music U.S.A." and a number of documentaries for the series "American Experience." “We do not shy away from addressing key issues of legitimacy, justice, discrimination and the very meaning of citizenship. The series has great cinematography, incisive interviews, evocative archive materials — but what I am most proud of is that we were able to tell history in the first person. 'Latino Americans' is history ‘con nombre y apellido’ — with first and last name. And that is what makes our stories compelling and profoundly human.”

Basin PBS, with sponsors Midland College, Freedom Buick GMC Truck, John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute and Rosa’s Café, will host two 40-minute screenings of the 6-hour series 'Latino Americans' on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Screenings will be at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Midland College in the Scharbauer Student Center, Carrasco Room. A light meal will be provided.

"Latino Americans" tells the story of early settlement, conquest and immigration; of tradition and reinvention; of anguish and celebration; and of the gradual construction of a new American identity from diverse sources that connects and empowers millions of people today.

The series is broken into the following six chronological episodes that cover the 1500s to the present day:

Premiering Tuesday, Sept. 17, 7-9 p.m. on PBS

Episode 1. “Foreigners in Their Own Land” spans the period from 1565-1880, 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.

Episode 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.

Premiering Tuesday, September 24, 7-9 p.m. on PBS

Episode 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 back in the United States.

Episode 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.

Premiering Tuesday, October 1, 7-9 p.m. on PBS

Episode 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.

Episode 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 a drain on public resources.

Simultaneously, the Latino influence is booming in business, 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.

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