'Latino Americans' On PBS Chronicles Long History Of Hispanic Contributions In The U.S.

Adriana Bosch said she feels that in the last few years — because of how the immigration reform debate has been framed — many Americans see Latinos as a population that “just got here the day before yesterday.”

She is out to prove that narrative wrong.

The Cuban-born filmmaker has spent the last five years working on a landmark three-part, six-hour series that chronicles the 500-plus years of Latino contributions to the United States. The series, dubbed Latino Americans, is set to air nationally on PBS during Hispanic Heritage Month. It will premier on Tuesday and run through Oct. 1.

“It shows we have been part of American history from since before there was a United States and that we continue to contribute to the American history and to share the sacrifices, the struggles and the successes of this nation,” Bosch told VOXXI of Latino Americans.

The series comes at a time when Latinos make up nearly 17 percent of the nation’s population, with an estimated 52 million Latinos living in the U.S. By 2050, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Latino.

‘Latino Americans’ is the first of its kind

Bosch said she first heard about Latino Americans when its executive producer, Jeff Bieber, contacted her in 2008. The two met and had a discussion over the numerous documentaries out there that cover parts of the Latino history in the U.S.

They concluded that there has never been any major documentary series, like Latino Americans, that chronicles the rich history Latinos have in the U.S., starting from the 1500s to the present day.It was then that Bosch said she became encouraged to be part of this mammoth project.

“I thought it was a tremendous opportunity, and I also felt it was a story that needed to be told,” she said.

Bosch added that it was also the first time she became involved with this kind of series. The Emmy Award-winning series producer has worked on a number of projects, such as the critically-acclaimed TV series “Latin Music USA.” and a documentary about Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She’s also done several documentaries on Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

She said through her work on Latino Americans, she has been “learning about my own history better and learning about the history of other Latinos as well.”

‘Latino Americans’ covers centuries of Latino history

Narrated by actor Benjamin Bratt, Latino Americans covers centuries of history about Latinos and shows the diversity that exists within the Latino community.

It includes nearly 100 interviews with Latinos from all walks of life, including those involved in politics, business and pop culture. Among the Latinos featured in the series are Rita Moreno, Dolores Huerta, Gloria Estefan and former Congressman Charlie Gonzalez.

The series is broken into six chronological segments. It begins with the U.S. expanding into the Southwest and recounts how the U.S. took over land from Mexico during the Mexican-American War.

It also covers the arrival of Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Dominican Republic into the U.S. and the contributions of Latinos during World War II.

Furthermore, it details how labor leaders, like Cesar Chavez, organized farm workers in California and the recent plight of Latinos to fight for immigration reform. The series concludes with a look at the Latino influence in many sectors of society and how Latinos will play a major role in determining the success of the U.S. in the 21st century.

“Moving forward, it is very important that we are not seen as people who are just coming to the United States, but as people who are part of this nation,” Bosch said.

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Hispanic Contributions