American Experience: Season 21, Episode 4

A Class Apart (23 Feb. 2009)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 20 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 3 critic

In 1951 in the town of Edna, Texas, a field hand named Pedro Hernandez murdered his employer after exchanging words at a gritty cantina... See full synopsis »


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Title: A Class Apart (23 Feb 2009)

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Episode credited cast:
Norma Cantú ...
Ramiro Casso ...
James DeAnda ...
Oralia Espinosa ...
Henry Flores ...
Ignacio M. García ...
Wanda García ...
Carlos Guerra ...
Juan Hernández ...
Mike Herrera ...
Ian Haney López ...
Benny Martínez ...
Eleanor McCusker ...
Michael Olivas ...
Himself - Narrator


In 1951 in the town of Edna, Texas, a field hand named Pedro Hernandez murdered his employer after exchanging words at a gritty cantina... See full synopsis »

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23 February 2009 (USA)  »

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Informative and, once again, well made.
3 May 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This episode, narrated by Leonard James Olmos, is about a type of discrimination you don't hear a lot about on television. In much of the country, it was considered perfectly acceptable to discriminate against Latinos. Aside from movies like "Giant", you just didn't hear about things like restaurants refusing to serve Hispanics or counties allowing them to serve on juries. All this was segregation by tradition and culture versus by law. Legally speaking, Hispanics had the same rights as everyone else--but practically speaking, this was not so.

A challenge to this discrimination was the Hernandez case. A Mexican-American was accused of murder and was tried by an all-White jury. He was convicted but the case was appealed because Hispanics were systematically denied the right to serve on juries. Ultimately, the case came up before the Supreme Court in 1954 and the Court sided with Hernandez' lawyers. Ironically, Hernandez was once again convicted once he was retried by a jury of his peers--but it was a jury of peers and established that Hispanics had exactly the same rights before the law.

All in all, an interesting an important episode of "The American Experience". As is typical of the series, the show is excellent and very well made. However, a bit of the material in this show was covered in another PBS documentary. For more on the Private Longoria affair, try finding a copy of "Independent Lens: The Longoria Affair"

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