Class Apart: American Experience

Season 21, Episode 1 of 1

In the tiny town of Edna, Texas, in 1951, a field hand named Pete Hernandez murdered his employer after exchanging heated words in a gritty cantina. From this unremarkable small-town murder emerged a landmark civil rights case that would forever change the lives and legal standing of tens of millions of Americans. "A Class Apart" tells the little-known story of a band of underdog Mexican-American lawyers who took their case, Hernandez v. Texas, all the way to the Supreme Court, where they successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans. In the landmark legal case, prosecution lawyers forged a daring legal strategy, arguing that Mexican Americans were "a class apart" and did not neatly fit into a legal structure that recognized only blacks and whites. As legal skirmishes unfolded, the lawyers emerged as brilliant, dedicated, humorous and at times terribly flawed men. This film dramatically weaves the story of its central characters - activists and lawyers, returning veterans and ordinary citizens, murderer and victim - into the broader history of Latinos in America during a time of extraordinary change.

Previously Aired

Day
Time
Channel
2/23/2009
9 p.m.
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