LULAC members

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) members, including Hernandez attorney John J. Herrera, fourth from left.
Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library, Houston, Texas League.

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A Class Apart is a new documentary by award-winning filmmakers Carlos Sandoval (Farmingville) and Peter Miller (Sacco and Vanzetti, Passin' It On).

The first major film to bring to life the heroic post-World War II struggles of Mexican Americans against the Jim Crow-style discrimination targeted against them, A Class Apart is built around the landmark 1951 legal case Hernandez v. Texas, in which an underdog band of Mexican Americans from Texas bring a case all the way to the Supreme Court - and win.

The film begins with a murder in a gritty small-town cantina and follows the legal journey of the Hernandez lawyers through the Texas courts and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court.

We see them forge a daring legal strategy that called their own racial identities into question by arguing that Mexican Americans were "a class apart" who did not neatly fit into a legal structure that only recognized blacks and whites.

A grassroots national movement supports the legal efforts, with tiny contributions sent by Latinos from around the country paying for the Hernandez case to go forward. The film dramatically interweaves the story of its central characters - activists and lawyers, returning veterans and ordinary citizens, murderer and victim - within the broader history of Latinos in America during a time of extraordinary change.