Mexican Americans gained U.S. citizenship in late 1848, but it took another century for them to secure legal equality. The Supreme Court case that established Mexican Americans' civil rights evolved from a seemingly straightforward murder case in Edna, Texas. A new documentary film, A Class Apart, tells the story of how this small-town killing transformed not only the legal status of Mexican Americans but also their lives.
The documentary recounts the history of Mexican Americans in the U.S. through 1951, when field hand Pedro Hernandez killed his employer. What began as a routine murder case in the local courts eventually escalated into the landmark Supreme Court civil rights case: Hernández v. Texas. "This is the story of an underdog group of lawyers who beat the odds to win their case. It's also the story of a people, their struggle, and the beginnings of a movement that is very much alive today," explains narrator Edward James Olmos near the beginning of the film.
The documentary features rich contemporary images of Mexican American life in the 1950s. Interviewees include legal experts, historians, and Mexican Americans living in Edna during the time of the murder and ensuing court proceedings. Their commentary narrates the little-known history of Mexican Americans' civil rights.
The film will air on PBS on February 23rd at 8:00 p.m. as part of the long-running historical series, American Experience. Humanities Texas awarded the filmmakers a $6,000 media grant for the research and development of A Class Apart. Director and producer Carlos Sandoval will be screening sneak previews of the film throughout February in Texas and the nation:
A Class Apart Screening Schedule
San Antonio, TX on February 2
101 South Santa Rosa (World Premiere, VIP Benefit Screening)
Washington, DC, on February 5
555 11 St., NW
Dallas, TX, on February 10
Hosted by AFI Dallas and local partners
Austin, TX, on February 11
Mexican American Cultural Center
600 River Street Hosted by KLRU and local partners
San Antonio, TX, on February 12
4522 Fredericksburg Road
Hosted by Texas Public Radio and KLR
San Francisco, CA, on February 12
Landmark Theaters Embarcadero
One Embarcadero Center
New York, NY, on February 17
Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus
Houston, TX, on February 19
Talento Bilingüe de Houston
333 S. Jensen Street
San Antonio, TX, on February 23
Our Lady of the Lake University Center for Mexican American Studies & Research
411 SW 24th Street
Please visit www.CaminoBluff.com for details and updates.