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"Latino Americans" PBS special

Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:31 pm

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainmen ... -1.1454020

'Latino Americans': TV review
PBS series recounts a centuries-old history that's often ignored
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Friday, September 13, 2013, 2:00 AM
Among the historic figures in "Latino Americans" on PBS: Juan Seguin, a military commander who fought at the Alamo and helped create the Republic of Texas

Title: "Latino Americans": TV review
Network / Air Date: Ch. 13, Tuesday at 8 p.m.
The notes of triumph become louder and more frequent as PBS’ ambitious six-hour series on America’s fastest-growing minority moves toward its conclusion.

The most ambitious TV production yet on the diverse group of people known in shorthand as Latinos also makes it clear that virtually every triumph was paid for in sweat, toil, tears and, too often, blood.

The series follows the history of different “Latino” groups in the so-called New World from the 16th century to the present, when the votes of Latino Americans re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

This series is a combination of history lesson, documentary and sobering reminder of the often shameful way the United States was built.

More importantly, though, it’s a salute to those who built it anyway.

Spanish-speaking missionaries were moving north into the present-day Florida and California at the same time Europeans were colonizing the northeast. They built large parts of cities, created orderly civilizations.

Too often, they were then swept aside, and well into the 20th century a widespread feeling persisted that “they” didn’t matter. The segments here on the treatment of migrant farmworkers paint a picture no less sobering for its familiarity.

Yet at the same time there had always been a successful Latino class, alongside a gradually growing middle class. Anyone who says “they” don’t matter today isn’t paying attention.

Prejudice and discrimination have hardly disappeared, this program suggests. Too much of the national immigration debate still reflects both.

But the series also finds a growing undercurrent of respect and acknowledgment. If the present level of achievement and determination continues, it suggests, the next chapter of this story is likely to get better.

dhinckley@nydailynews.com