ACS will tomorrow give a sneak preview of “A Class Apart,” a documentary film chronicling the landmark 14th Amendment case, Hernandez v. Texas. The Thursday, February 12, event is at Landmark Theatres Embarcadero Center Cinema, One Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level, San Francisco, starting at 7 p.m. with doors open at 6:30 p.m. A discussion takes place at 8 p.m. The cost to attend this event is $10, payable online at the RSVP page.
There’s also a pre-screening reception at 6 p.m. at Chevys, Two Embarcadero, (next to the Embarcadero Center Cinema) made possible by the generous sponsorship of Keker & Van Nest LLP, the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association, and the East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association.
In the tiny town of Edna, Texas, in 1951, field hand Pete Hernandez murdered tenant farmer Joe Espinosa after exchanging words in a gritty cantina. From this 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 Class Apart” tells the little-known story of a band of underdog Mexican-American lawyers who took their case, Hernandez 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. This 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.
The event features introductory remarks by the Honorable Maria P. Rivera, Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Four and Miguel A. Mendez, Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law, Stanford Law School.
The discussion panel following the film will include: The Honorable Lorenzo Arredondo, Judge, Lake Circuit Court, and co-author of “El Chicano y the Constitution: The Legacy of Hernandez v. Texas, Grand Jury Discrimination;” Ignacio M. Garcia, the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Professor of Western & Latino History, Brigham Young University, and author of “White But Not Equal: Mexican Americans, Jury Discrimination, and the Supreme Court;” and Ian F. Haney Lopez, Professor of Law and Executive Committee Member, Center for Social Justice, Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
The panel will be moderated by Donato Tapia, Co-Chair, Oral History Project Committee, Hispanic National Bar Association.
The Equal Justice Society is proud to co-host with the Bay Area Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society, Active Voice, the American GI Forum of the United States, the East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association, the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Public Broadcasting Service, and the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association.