CNN will extend its acclaimed “…in America” series of documentaries with a two-night, four-hour event, Latino in America, on October 21 & 22 at 9PM ET. Reported by Soledad O’Brien the documentary examines the growing diversity of America, revealing insight into a changing nation on the eve of the U.S. census that is expected to officially confirm that Latino Americans are the largest minority group within the country.“As the face of America changes profoundly, CNN continues to demonstrate that we are the only cable news network dedicated to delivering a diversity of opinions and coverage,” said Jon Klein, president CNN/U.S. “This landmark series will showcase dramatic personal stories from across the sweep of Latino-American society, and move the dialogue well beyond limited partisan discussions of immigration.”
Latino in America: The Garcias – Wednesday, Oct. 21
“Garcia” is now one of the top ten most popular surnames in the country, a sign of the largest ethnic wave in America’s history. For the debut evening of CNN’s Latino in America, O’Brien interviews Garcias from all walks of life. They hail from a broad array of nations; some families are new arrivals to America – others have been Americans for many generations. Old, young, wealthy and poor, Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in America. O’Brien’s lens on the Garcias yields a window into American life that viewers will find both new and very familiar at the same time.Soledad O’Brien interviews actor and producer Jesse Garcia about the challenges young Latino stars still face in securing non-stereotypical roles in Hollywood.
One Garcia viewers will meet is Cindy Garcia, a 17-year old high schooler living in Greater Los Angeles. Cindy has a close and loving family, but like many Latina teens she is also facing challenges beyond her years. Her mother, originally from Guatemala, speaks no English and depends upon Cindy for translation assistance for medical appointments and other personal business. Cindy is often asked to babysit for the children of her siblings, even taking them to school with her; and she struggles with the added burden of an unplanned pregnancy. Most of Cindy’s family and friends never graduated from high school, and an astounding 70 percent of her fellow students drop out before graduation, but Cindy tells O’Brien that she is determined to graduate. The first evening follows Cindy’s journey.Soledad O’Brien talks to Edward James Olmos about becoming a successful actor, producer and composer on his own terms.
Throughout Night One in the series, viewers will also hear from several prominent Latinos about the American experience of being Latino including, Lissette Álvarez, Willy Chirino, America Ferrera, Jesse Garcia, George Lopez, Lupe Ontiveros, Edward James Olmos and Eva Longoria Parker.
Latino in America: Chasing the Dream – Thursday, Oct. 22
The second documentary in the two-night series focuses on a journey as old as the nation – the pursuit of the American Dream. O’Brien interviews Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who fled communist Cuba at age 15. Martinez recalls his own American Dream journey – from his first humble nights on the floor of a welcoming Catholic church in Miami, learning English and achieving undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida, becoming a U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and finally becoming a U.S. Senator.O’Brien tours Camp Matecumbe in Miami, FL, with former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL).
O’Brien also speaks with Carlos Robles. Since he is from Puerto Rico, he is an American citizen, but he has found transition to life in Florida a challenge so far. A police officer in Puerto Rico, Carlos’ dream is to become a sheriff in Orlando. But he struggles with English, and he is worried that his language skills may interfere with or delay his dream.
In Shenandoah, Pa., O’Brien discovers a dream denied. Luis Ramirez was killed by a group of white high school students – allegedly only because of his ethnicity. Ramirez was an illegal immigrant from Mexico, and his death and the ensuing trial have been a lightning rod for long-building tensions in the community over dwindling jobs, crime and a melding of cultures that has not always been seamless.
On the other end of the spectrum, Vanessa Rosas, also from Puerto Rico, has flourished. Fluent in Spanish and English, her young children are also bilingual and Rosas and her husband – both engineers – live an affluent life in Florida as Disney employees. Rosas and her husband observe traditional Puerto Rican customs and celebrations and have also adopted those of the mainland. They are perhaps a bridge to a nation growing in Latino diversity.
“Soledad will give viewers new insight into an American story that they may have thought that they understood. There is so much to learn about the changing landscape of America – and we’re delivering it just as the nation confirms its new demographics and all of the promise – and challenges that will come with that,” said Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer, CNN Productions.
To learn more about the series you can visit the Latino in America website.