Peter Miller and Carlos Sandoval

Peter Miller (left) and Carlos Sandoval (right), producer/directors of A Class Apart.
Photo: Michael Jordi Valdés.

see the full interview on the
A Class Apart DVD

Carlos Sandoval: I discovered the Hernandez story on the subway. I was reading a New York Times editorial on the 50th anniversary of the case. I'd never heard about it, and I had gone to law school. I was surprised and decided to delve further. Once I found out that it covered not only issues of discrimination and the expansion of the Fourteenth Amendment but also allowed for a way to explore the issues of identity that surround being a Latino, I was hooked.

Peter Miller: I'm always interested in stories from American history, and in particular stories about people who have been left out of the traditional tellings of our history. When Carlos approached me about this film and said he was making a film about the Mexican American civil rights movement of the post-World War II era, I thought, "I don't know anything about that, this is a civil rights movement I should know about." When I got to learn a little bit more, I realized that not only was this a very important story that the public needed to know, but it also was a fantastic subject for a film with really compelling characters and a wonderful dramatic storyline.

Carlos: I think that one of the greatest challenges of telling a story like this, a story that is in the past but not so distant past, and that comes out of a community that itself has not been well documented, is trying to piece together that story.

Peter: When we started working on this project, there [was] very little historical literature about it and we really were on our own, digging through the archives, talking to witnesses of this history, and trying to figure out what happened and putting together this elaborate puzzle.

Carlos: The Hernandez vs. Texas case is one that has not been generally documented by historians. This early Mexican American civil rights movement is only now coming into its own.