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Rutgers Hosts Screening of Documentary Film Chronicling Landmark 14th Amendment Case

 The Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience and the Office of Student Life and Leadership at Rutgers-Newark present a screening of the award-winning film, A Class Apart, a documentary about the landmark 14th amendment U.S. Supreme Court case vindicating Latino civil rights, on Wednesday, October 7, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Dana Room of the John Cotton Dana Library, 185 University Avenue on the Rutgers-Newark campus. The event is free and open to the public.


There will be a reception and post-screening panel discussion following the film with Carlos Sandoval, producer and director of A Class ApartThe film was the recent recipient of the prestigious Imagen Award in the category of best documentary/TV in August, 2009. Panelists include members of the local Newark legal community.


In 1951 in the town of EdnaTexas, field hand Pete Hernández murdered tenant farmer Joe Espinosa after exchanging words at a gritty cantina.  From this seemingly unremarkable small-town murder emerged a landmark civil rights case that would forever change the lives and legal standing of tens of millions of Americans. A team of unknown Mexican American lawyers took the case,Hernández v. Texas, all the way to the Supreme Court, where they successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans.


In the landmark case, defense lawyers forged a daring legal strategy, arguing that Mexican-Americans were “a class apart” and did not neatly fit into a legal structure that recognized only blacks and whites.  As legal skirmishes unfolded, the lawyers emerged as brilliant, dedicated, humorous and at times terribly flawed men.  A Class Apart 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. 



The screening of A Class Apart is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society. Additional National Partners include: Active Voice, the American GI Forum of the United States, Equal Justice Society, the Hispanic National Bar Foundation, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Latino Public Broadcasting and Public Broadcasting System. The screening of A Class Apart at Rutgers-Newark is presented with the generous sponsorship of McCarter & English, LLP.



For more information please visit the InstituteÂ’s website at:, or contact Marisa Pierson at

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