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Hispanic America (1980)

Sul Ross State University

Sound | 1980

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  •  Introduction by Walter Cronkite 
  •  Skit with Mel Blanc and Jack Benny 
  •  Cuban Americans in Miami 
  •  Puerto Ricans in New York 
  •  Mexican Americans in the Southwest 
  •  Spanish-language McDonald’s commercial 
  •  Interview with Wilma Martinez, of the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund 
  •  Mayor Thomas Bradley of Los Angeles walks out of a meeting called by local Latinx residents 
  •  Rio Grande Valley 
  •  Interview with Mayor Juan Maldonado of San Juan 
  •  Bilingual education class in East Los Angeles 
  •  Police training simulation 
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Produced by CBS Evening News and distributed by the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’Rith, this 1980 television documentary interviews a few of the many Spanish-speaking Americans that make up what will become the nation’s largest minority population. CBS Evening News host Walter Cronkite introduces the program, while correspondent Ed Rable reports. After briefly refuting racist stereotypes, the documentary travels across the country to highlight predominant Spanish-speaking groups and cultures, such as Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Puerto Ricans. Featured locations include Miami; New York City; Chicago; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Los Angeles; and San Juan, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. Rable also chronicles the ongoing efforts by minority leaders to develop greater political power in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality. Please note, this film makes dated comments to describe certain Latinx groups, indicative of the time in which it was produced. The Texas Archive of the Moving Image does not condone the use of such language, but presents this film as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim this term never existed.

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years. Cronkite was born on November 4, 1916, in St. Joseph, Missouri, but spent much of his youth in Houston. He worked on the newspaper at San Jacinto High School, then on The Daily Texan at the University of Texas, which he attended for two years before leaving to take a job as a radio announcer in Oklahoma City.

In 1939, he joined the United Press and became a war correspondent with the outbreak of World War II. Edward R. Murrow asked him to join his team in 1943, but Cronkite elected to stay on with the United Press. Following the war, Murrow finally convinced Cronkite to join CBS. He first gained prominence at CBS with his coverage of the 1952 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. He took over Edward R. Murrow’s position as the senior correspondent at CBS in 1961, and he began anchoring the CBS Evening News in 1962. In 1963, the program was extended to a half-hour and renamed the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” as it remained until his retirement in 1981.

Throughout his career he signed off of programs with a trademark phrase. In the 1950s, he closed programs by asking, “What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times. And you were there.” For decades at the helm of the CBS Evening News, he simply concluded, “And that’s the way it is.” Walter Cronkite is remembered as an impartial, trustworthy presence in primetime news. He covered some of the most significant American events of the 20th century, including the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., the moon landing, and the Vietnam War. Cronkite is perhaps best remembered as the man that told America about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He broke the news on CBS, the first network to report the event, so most Americans first heard the grave news about their president from him.

Cronkite married Betsy Maxwell in 1940, and they remained married until her death in 2005. They had three children: Nancy, Kathy, and Walter III. Cronkite continued to be a prominent voice in journalism even after his retirement. He died on July 17, 2009. His papers are held at the University of Texas, and the Moody College of Communication named the Walter Cronkite Plaza in his honor.