In 1971, “Chicano I & II” was the first time that a commercial television network focused on people of color in the United States. Now it’s relaunched

“Chicano I & II: The Mexican American Heritage Series” aired on KNBC-TV in July 1971. It examined history from a Chicano perspective and featured several of California’s early Chicano studies teachers discussing the issues. contemporaries facing the Mexican American community. His host was Franck Cruz, an associate professor of Chicano history at Cal State Long Beach at the time.

The program restarted once in 1972, then the film reels ended up in Cruz’s garage and remained intact for 50 years.

Then three months ago, Cruz decided to revive them. Thanks to Dino Everett, USC Archivist Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, nine of the 20 episodes are publicly available again.

“The important thing about the show was that it really marked the first time in US history that a commercial network – in this case NBC – produced a series about people of color in the United States. Says Cruz, who now sits on the USC board of directors and the Annenberg board of directors.

This documentary can be used inside and outside the classroom, to educate people about the past and inform decisions for the future, says Nathalie Molina, who teaches American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. His next book is “A Place at Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nurtured a Community. “

“Where were we and where did we go today? How far have we come today in terms of representation of Latinos? Molina asks. “I think when different media companies… [celebrate] Hispanic Heritage Month and they want to say: “Look at what we have contributed to Latin American history”, that they can even use this series as a kind of reference to say: “Are we contributing more than this series n ‘did ? Have we released alternative images? Do we have more people represented in our companies? “


Frank Cruz presents “Chicano I & II: The Mexican American Heritage Series”. This episode was titled “Episode 3 – Mexican American War Period” and aired on July 7, 1971. Credit: USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive.

Cruz ended the “Chicano I” series by asserting that the Chicanos were no longer an “anonymous and speechless minority” and “were preparing to write those chapters necessary for the history of the Southwest”. Five decades later, Cruz says that the work continues.

“I often think, to use the old African saying, ‘until the lion learns to write, the hunting tales will always glorify the hunter.’ History is still written by non-Hispanics, and I think we need to write it. I think we were trying to open the door at that time so that others could follow and see the changes and make those changes that were dramatically needed back then, and still are to this day, ”said Cruz.


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