Independent Lens: Season 12, Episode 4

The Longoria Affair (9 Nov. 2010)

TV Episode  -  Documentary
7.9
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Title: The Longoria Affair (09 Nov 2010)

The Longoria Affair (09 Nov 2010) on IMDb 7.9/10

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9 November 2010 (USA)  »

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Very interesting...and it's interesting how things have and haven't changed.
5 October 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This episode of "Independent Lens" is about a sad piece of American history. The 'Longoria Affair' is about a controversy that arose when the body of a dead soldier from WWII was finally identified in 1949 (well after the war ended). His body was sent home to his family in Southern Texas and that is when things got ugly. It seems that the local funeral parlor had a policy to have Hispanic wakes in peoples' homes--not in the facility. Why? Because having dead Hispanics might OFFEND the local whites!! That seems crazy today--the notion of a was hero having such an inglorious reception, but it did happen. And when a local Hispanic doctor found out, he was fighting mad and contacted EVERYONE he could to get some action. The only government official who responded was Senator Lyndon Johnson--who arranged to have Longoria buried with honor at Arlington Cemetery. There's a lot more to the film than just this--including the community's reactions today (many seemed in denial) and how this incident played itself out years later during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

While I was not too surprised by the maltreatment of Hispanics (it is a reasonably well-known part of our history), I was surprised and impressed by Lyndon Johnson. I have no idea why, but today in America, John Kennedy gets lots of credit for improving race relations--though he pretty consistently did nothing. I knew that Johnson pushed through the Voting Rights Act (a HUGE milestone) but I didn't realize he also did a lot for Hispanic Americans. While he was a very flawed man (such as his severe escalation of the Vietnam War), you really have to give the man credit. For a Texan, fighting for the rights of blacks and Hispanics was an uphill battle and probably cost him some support--but it was the right thing to do.

While I think the film's focus was a bit too broad at times for such a short film, nonetheless, it was excellent. Very insightful and inspiring.


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