Last night A Class Apart was shown on all the PBS channels.  I am sorry I didn’t realize it was on earlier so I could have posted an announcement.  You can now view information about the film online.  It isn’t the entire program but gives a good overview. 


A Class Apart  tells of the Mexican-American Civil Rights movement in Texas in a post WWII world.  There was urgency in the film because of the age of those who had been leaders in this movement.  The case, Hernandez v. Texas happened in the 1950s so everyone involved was rising up in years.  It  challenged  Jim Crow-style discrimination in southwestern America. 


This little known Supreme Court case ended segregation of Mexican-Americans in schools and wiped out many social practices in the southwest that kept Mexican-Americans as second class citizens. 


It is rather amazing that this much information has been left out of the general history books.  According to the Houston Chronicle:


Hernandez v. Texas stemmed from the case of Pete Hernandez, a farmworker accused of killing a man in a bar fight in the Jackson County town of Edna in 1951. His case drew the attention of a group of San Antonio and Houston attorneys, who saw the case as a vehicle to break down the Jim Crow-style laws and customs that oppressed Mexican-Americans in the same fashion as African-Americans.

The attorneys argued that Hernandez could not receive a fair trial because Jackson County had systematically eliminated Mexican-Americans from juries. The state countered that Mexican-Americans were lumped in with Anglos under the law and thus were not entitled to special treatment under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The case, the first to be argued by Mexican-American lawyers before the Supreme Court, was heard during the same term as the Brown v. Board of Education case seeking to outlaw segregation in public schools. In a decision that was overshadowed nationwide by the Brown decision a week later, the court ruled that Mexican-Americans were a distinct group entitled to the same constitutional protection as other minority groups.


Click here to view film on this case at PBS 

Additional reading: Houston Chronicle

Introduction from PBS

18 Thoughts to “Mexican-American Discrimination Exposed on American Experience”

  1. Punchak

    Are we all dashing out today to see and hear Tom Tancredo, THE Tom Tancredo, who will have at least two shows today? American U. at 10 am and at George Mason U. tonight. This according to admirer on BVBL/

  2. Moon-howler

    Not I. Wouldn’t walk across the street to see him. I guess today is a high holy day on the dark screen. Their Prince is in town. Let the lovefest begin.

  3. IVAN

    Is this the same Tancredo that ran for POTUS last year and was pulling a 1% rating in the polls? Talk about the “voice of the people.”

  4. Lucky Duck

    Moon-Howler, I haven’t heard the term “High Holy Day” since my grade school days…I take it you too are a product of Catholic schooling?

  5. ShellyB

    M-H, thanks for this. I will tivo.

    Tancredo. Yuck.

  6. Elena

    Yes Ivan, the one and, thank G-d, only, tancredo.

  7. Moon-howler

    @Lucky Duck
    I escaped…by the skin of my teeth…but I have a lot of friends who didn’t. Let’s say I was close enough to talk the talk, just not walk the walk. 😉

  8. hello

    Hi IVAN, if he pulled 1% in the polls isn’t that about 1/2% more than Biden? 🙂

  9. IVAN

    Hi Hello, you’re right. But I guess that 1/2% still qualified Biden for second place in the big race. Tancredo couldn’t even beat out Sarah Palin.

  10. Moon-howler

    So what does Tom Tancredo do for a living now? Run the lecture circuit?

    I guess he has himself a following.

  11. Moon-howler

    Did anyone have time to watch the film? I had no idea that Mexican-Americans went through their own Jim Crow in the southwest from the Mexican American War until the mid 50’s. I sure didn’t learn about that in school.

    Am I the only one who was unaware of this repugnant fact?

  12. DB

    So NO ONE watched the 20/20 special on the dire state of poverty that so many children live in here in America? Not one person is upset by the dire needs of American citizens in Appalachia or the Ozarks? Not one person here is either aware of nor cares for these children and their families? Yeah, I see the “immigrant experience”, but at the same time I also see the “coal miner” experience, the “I work at Walmart and can’t afford my trailer rent” experience, the “I’m hooked on meth” experience, the “I don’t have medical insurance” experience etc. If as many people put their efforts into improving the lives of the families here, the ones here for generations, the families that did their part in making this country great during the boom times, rather than jumping in to protect the new arrivals, then perhaps there could be true and righteous inroads to the problems of poverty. Let’s stop focusing on past history and focus TODAY on what and whom we can help today.

  13. Moon-howler

    Actually, the people in this thread have been American citizens since around 1850, at the close of the Mexican American War. Is that long enough? I do not consider them immigrants. They lands were annexed because their country lost a war. Most of those folks were subjected to a great deal of discrimination and were segregated from the white people.

    I am very sorry about the poor of Appalcachia and the Ozarks. I have been aware of their plight for decades. Because we missed a tv show we are all bad people? I was not aware it was on. By the way, the people who live in those regions are victims of generational poverty.

    Bringing the mountain people off the mountains to build the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway makes for an interesting read. They did not want to come down. That was generational poverty 80-90 years ago.

    This blog will continue to focus on history because….
    Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  14. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    I never cease to get a kick out of the mentally “less-than” who equate Tancredo with a serious candidate for President. Yeah, he got 1% or lower, he never was an all-around candidate, he was there to draw attention to an issue that is destroying our nation. That’s OK, though, I equate Dennis Kucinich with the all-around Democratic Candidate, someone the Dems all thought had a serious chance. But the people rejected his “UFO hate-speech”. In my best Keith Olberman…”Oh, God”.

  15. Moon-howler

    Dennis Kucinich? Bwaaaaa-hahahahaha. You are kidding aren’t you?

    He didn’t even have a claim to fame did he?

    I’m sorry. That was mean. I take it back. I consider Kucinich an outlier…away from the mainstream.

  16. Punchak

    Moon Howler #11

    My husband worked at a potash mine near Carlsbad NM 1950/51; came from Rochester NY. When he saw how the church going whites treated the Mexicans it changed his outlook on life in many ways, he told me.

    “No Mexicans allowed” = signs in windows of coffeeshops and many stores.

  17. hello

    In my best Keith Olberman… that’s a good one. 🙂

    Is that guy a joke or what, it’s almost like he is trying to be the ‘anti-Rush’ but tries just a bit too hard. He ends up coming off like a jack-a$$.

  18. Moon-howler

    Punchak, I find that amazing. What I find more amazing is that sentiment doesn’t lurk too far beneath the surface with some people, many who I have read on blogs.

    1950 was a long time ago…..but even still. Geez.

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