Public Media Showcases Latin History, Culture for Hispanic Heritage Month

September 10, 2019

Victor Rios in The Pushouts

The VOCES documentary “The Pushouts” tells the story of Victor Rios, from gang member to doctorate, college professor and youth mentor. Photo courtesy of Latino Public Broadcasting.

Hispanic Heritage Month starts September 15, the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Public media is offering programming and events with Hispanic history and culture to engage audiences throughout September and October.

VOCES, a four-documentary series showcasing the best of Latino arts, culture, and history, launches on September 13 on PBS with “Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage” (9 pm, check local listings). Directed by Ben DeJesus, the documentary is a biography of the acclaimed actor, a Puerto Rico native who performed Shakespeare at Joseph Papp’s The Public Theater in New York and went onto acclaim on Broadway and in films before his death at age 54. The special presentation of American Masters and VOCES is a co-production of ITVS, NGL Studios, Diamante Content, and Latino Public Broadcasting in association with American Masters Pictures.


VOCES, produced by Latino Public Broadcasting with CPB support and presented by PBS SoCal, continues to air Fridays on PBS through October 4:

  • “The Pushouts” (10 pm, September 20, check local listings) follows gang-member-turned professor Victor Rios as he mentors young people who have been “pushed out” of school for reasons beyond their control. This documentary was supported by CPB as part of the American Graduate initiative.
  • “Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno” (10 pm. September 27, check local listings) is the story of filmmaker Laurie Coyle’s quest to uncover the legacy of Maria Moreno, a mother of 12 who became an outspoken advocate for farmworker rights long before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
  • “Porvenir, Texas” (10 pm, October 4, check local listings) investigates the 1918 massacre of 15 Mexican men in the border town of Porvenir, revealing border tensions that remain a century later.

Public television stations including KPBS in San Diego and WTTW in Chicago have held VOCES screenings, and Latino Public Broadcasting provided grants to PBS SoCal and six other public television stations — WKAR (Michigan), Nashville Public Television, KNME (New Mexico), South Florida PBS, KLRN (San Antonio) and Valley PBS (Fresno) — to launch community conversations around the films.

Also on PBS, “P.O.V: América” (Monday, 10 pm, October 7, check local listings) follows the journey of a surf shop employee and boardwalk performer who returns to his hometown of Colima, Mexico, to care for his brothers. “The Hispanic Heritage Awards” (10 pm, October 11, check local listings), presented by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, is the country’s highest tribute to Latinos by Latinos and includes performances and appearances by celebrated Hispanic artists.

WORLD Channel, a public television multicast channel available to two-thirds of TV households, is airing and streaming a collection of programs exploring the Latino identity from a racial and cultural perspective, and inviting comment on social media with the hashtag #WORLDxHHM. The documentary series America ReFramed premiered “Councilwoman” on September 3, following Carmen Castillo, a hotel housekeeper from the Dominican Republic who wins a seat on the city council in Providence, Rhode Island. “Stories from the Stage” (9:30 pm ET/8:30 CT Mondays) features Latin American storytellers each week through October 14: Rosanna Salcedo discovers that friendship can cross all kinds of borders; Gastor Almonte goes above and beyond to satisfy his wife’s sweet cravings; Ana Hebra Flaster describes her last night at home before leaving Cuba; Claritza Abreu prepares for her first job in the US by reading the phone book; and Andy Vargas runs for office with the support of his whole family.  

NPR’s Turning the Tables series, which is featured in “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered”  and online, will focus on Celia Cruz, the queen of Salsa, during the week of September 16-20, with a special playlist by Alt.Latino contributor Stefanie Fernandez. 

Nuevofest 2019, presented by WXPN and Afrotaino Productions in Philadelphia, will be featured on WXPN’s “World Café,” distributed by NPR to more than 200 radio stations, during Hispanic Heritage Month. Videos from the concert, featuring the Beachers, Kevin Johansen, Lady HD, Silvina Moreno, Los Rivera Destino, Stefa, Tall Juan and Yanga, are also streaming on demand at VuHaus, the public radio music discovery service.

In addition to special programming, there are ongoing public media programs focused on Hispanic news, history and culture, such as the Latin public radio network Radio Bilingue; NPR radio programs/podcasts Latino USAAlt.Latino and Spanish language podcast Radio Ambulante, which launches a new season today; WXPN’s biweekly World Café series Latin Roots and PBS cooking show Pati’s Mexican Table. Audio clips from StoryCorps’ StoryCorps Historias, launched in 2009 with CPB support to record the diverse stories and life experiences of Latino people in the United States, are also available on demand.

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