Las Vegas, N.M – Two episodes of the landmark 2013 PBS documentary Latino Americans, the first to chronicle the rich history and experiences of Latinos in the United States, will screen at Highlands University Sept. 15 and Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.
The Sept. 15 episode is titled “Foreigners in Their Own Land,” while the Oct. 13 episode is titled “War and Peace.” Both screenings are free and will be in the Student Union Building Theater, 800 National Ave.
Eric Romero, Highlands University languages and culture professor and head of the Native American/Hispano Cultural Studies program, will lead discussions after each film screening.
“There isn’t wide recognition of the Spanish Colonial and Mexican history of the American Southwest ranging from colonization in 1598 to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, when this area became a U.S. territory,” Romero said. “Historically, this land belonged to Mexican-Americans and Native Americans. The “Foreigners in Their Own Land” episode traces how they lost their land and became second-class citizens.”
Romero said the documentary covers new ground because for the most part this history is not included in U.S. history books.
“The second episode, ‘War and Peace,’ covers Mexican-American involvement in World War II.
In this war, they were the most decorated war heroes of any ethnic population. Upon returning from World War II, most of these veterans were confronted with continuing discrimination and racism at home. This film highlights some key events and movements that laid the groundwork for the Chicano Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s,” Romero said.
The professor uses the PBS documentary in two of his classes: Chicano Experience and Chicano History Since 1900.
“This documentary gives visual representation of historical events that have impacted the national and Las Vegas population. I think the film will spark impassioned, relevant discussion where local voices can comment and contribute,” Romero said.
The film screenings are part of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant Highlands University’s Donnelly Library received to present a program called Latino Americans: 500 Years of History. Public lectures are also as part of programming.
Romero’s Sept. 29 lecture, New Mexico Land Grants, will be at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Theater.
“My talk will address the land loss practices and contemporary concerns regarding the Spanish and Mexican land grant awards. Not only was their country taken away with the U.S. occupation in 1848, within a 40-year period, 70 percent of Spanish and Mexican land grants were appropriated from the original heirs. The geographic focus of my talk is present-day Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado,” Romero said.
On Oct. 27, Highlands University political science professor Elaine Rodríquez will present a lecture, Hispanic Voting Rights in the Post WWII Era, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Theater.
Rodríquez teaches classes at Highlands such as American National Government, Political Parties and Behavior, and Legislative Process.
April Kent, a Donnelly librarian and head of public services, wrote the successful National Endowment for the Humanities and American Library Association grant.
“The purpose of this NEH grant program is to look at the Latino American experience within the context of America’s social and cultural history,” Kent said. “One thing that often gets overlooked in national discussions of Latino American history is the New Mexico story. This programming addresses that.”
The programming also includes a reading and discussion group at Donnelly Library led by Highlands University English professor Juan Gallegos. The remaining books include The King and Queen of Comézon by Denise Chávez on Oct. 8 and Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz on Nov. 12. The books are available at Donnelly.
For more information, contact Kent at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the library at 802 National Ave.