The Latino Americans: Foreigners in Their Own Land

About This Episode

One hundred years after Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean, Spanish conquistadors and priests push into North America in search of gold and to spread Catholicism. With the arrival of the British in North America, the two colonial systems produce contrasting societies that come in conflict as Manifest Destiny pushes the U.S into the Mexican territories of the southwest.

Through the Mexican American War, the U.S. takes a full half of Mexico's territory by 1848; over 70,000 Mexicans are caught in a strange land with many becoming American citizens. As the Gold Rush floods California with settlers, Mexicans and Mexican Americans are treated as second-class citizens, facing discrimination and racial violence. At the same time, New Mexicans manage to transform themselves through education, managing to preserve Hispano culture, and their standing in the midst of an era of conquest and dispossession.

Latino Americans is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last 500-plus years and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S.