Ken Burns Ignores Latinos in WWII

Gus Chavez, a retired university administrator from San Diego who participated in a recent meeting with PBS execs, echoed her fighting words. The War documents a “major national experience and we’re not part of it and we don’t want it to be shown until it’s corrected,” said Chavez. “We are not going to sit still and let historical events of this nature be presented without our input and representation.” Navy veteran Chavez has joined Rivas-Rodriquez in organizing “Defend the Honor,” a campaign for recognition.







3 responses to “Ken Burns Ignores Latinos in WWII”

  1. Karen Avatar

    The issue here is accuracy.

    If Burns is going to call his work a documentary, then he needs to get the history right. Hundreds of thousands of Latinos served in WWII and thirteen (eleven Americans of Mexican
    descent and two Puerto Ricans) received the Congressional Medal of Honor from FDR and Truman for their service.

    Yet their stories are not good enough for inclusion in history books, documentaries, or Hollywood movies? I don’t think so. If Burns cannot see how egregious his omission is, then he should stop advertising his work as non-fiction.

    Shame on PBS. They should have known better.


    It’s not a surprise of the many people who are bothered, and even ANGRY about the inclusion of a peoples (latinos/indigenous) in burns upcoming film, but it does make one ponder. My question is why would anybody be so upset by including a large group of people that participated in a war in which, brought such great nationalism and pride in “americans” that we still, until this day, have such “great pride” that we allow our “american” rights to be trampled on as we speak, for the good of “america”, oh, and by the way, to which these people fought and DIED for. To include these people who made such an impact could ONLY make the movie that much more powerful, it’s inclusion is TRUTH and INSIGHT, not a story line to enhance the plot, why would anybody want to be DENIED that? Shame on those of you who protest the inclusion, and shame on Burns for not even entertaining the thought of including the important contributions of a peoples. I expect pbs to inform, educate, & entertain me, and no less as a pbs supporter, oh, and by the way, not from a “special interest” group. Burns creates work as a source of testimony to historical events, it’s a disappointment to me knowing that he had to be ENCOURAGED to make the correction, and yet, still does not surprise me of the exclusion in the year 2007. Now, if only he can make a movie on the westward expansion “MANIFEST DESTINY” that is long over due. Oh if only this unfortunate historical event is put out forth for all to see, why the latinos/indigenous people feel, and rightly so, the need NOT TO BE IGNORED.
    from a granchild of a war veteran–deb

  3. rudy acuna Avatar
    rudy acuna

    Ken Burns Sloppy:
    Julie Villarreal

    Supervisor, Member & Viewer Services

    I would like to apologize for my previous memo – it was hurried.

    Look, I have watched Mr. Burns’ documentaries for sometime. They are well crafted. However, they suffer from an anti-Mexican and Latino bias. Mr. Burns in other words is color blind and cannot see outside his ethnocentric box. This is not usual. As a historian I have studied history books by conservative and liberal authors. Most pre-1970 U/S. history texts were very well written but see life in terms of black and white. Some attempted to correct their bias by tacking on supplementary chapters. This has made the sleight worse.

    From my understanding, the Burns’ documentary runs for hours before a twenty minute segment on Mexican Americans, Latinos and Native Americans is tacked on. Pray tell, who after stays to watch a tack on? I have been around for some time. I have attended marvelous films. At the end, the management pleads with the audience to stay around for a short documentary. The movie house clears out.

    I have read the Burns Web Page carefully, and as of this moment I cannot find any mention of the omission or better still the disparate treatment of Mexicans, Latinos and Native Americans. You have forced us to enter the house through the backyard door and want us to be grateful.

    KCET offers no explanation or apology for its disparate treatment of Mexicans, Latinos and Native Americans. PBS has totally ignored the controversy hoping that its efforts to buy off a handful of Mexicans will bail them out.

    I went to the bookstore yesterday and I saw Ken Burns’ book on WW II with a ringing endorsement by PBS. In doing so, it is endorsing racism.

    To add insult to injury, you sent me this letter signed by Julie Villarreal, Supervisor, Member & Viewer Services. The email says “Kcet President wrote…..” I think this is mendacious. Ms Villarreal you are probably a very sincere person — but you are not the president. Indeed, KCET does not list a single Spanish surnamed person on its Board of Directors.

    Just like Burns it does not know or care what they look like. I am disappointed. I do believe you are a racist organization. My wife is a subscriber — but not for long.

    One last word — I think that you would be more sensitive if the documentary had omitted women.

    Rodolfo F. Acuña, PhD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *