The President of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Paula A. Kerger, met on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 with representatives from the Latino community at their headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia to discuss their concerns and recommendations about the exclusion of Latinos from producer Ken Burns’ forthcoming documentary, “The War”, on World War II.

Representing the Latino community at the meeting were Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez of the University of Texas at Austin; Gus Chavez of San Diego; Marta Garcia, co-chair and founder of the New York Chapter of the National Hispanic Media Coalition; Angelo Falcón of the National Institute for Latino Policy; and Ivan Roman of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. PBS was also represented by new PBS Board member Lionel Sosa, Senior Vice President/Chief TV Programming Executive John F. Wilson, Chief Content Officer John L. Boland, and Director of Corporate Communications and Media Relations Jan McNamara.

The PBS position on this issue at this point is:

· The Ken Burns 7-part documentary, “The War”, 6 years in the making, is completed and cannot be changed. The idea of PBS telling him to make changes to include Latinos would violate Burns’ artistic independence.

· PBS is putting resources to promote local programming by its 348 member stations around this documentary, the best of which they plan to promote at the national level. They are willing to work with the Latino community to make sure that the Latino involvement in WWII is addressed in this way.

· PBS may be willing to facilitate a meeting between Ken Burns and representatives of the Latino community to discuss this issue, as well as the Latino role in this future productions.

The Latino community representatives made the following points:

· The exclusion of Latinos from Ken Burns documentary is an insult to our community and nothing short of delaying the release of this film until it is edited to include Latinos is acceptable.

· We are willing to meet directly with Ken Burns as an independent producer to discuss our concerns.

· Why, if this documentary took six years to complete, did no one at PBS flag this problem of Latino exclusion earlier? We raise the need for PBS to consider instituting measures that prevent this type of exclusion from occurring in the future.

· There is a clear pattern of the neglect of Latinos in all of Ken Burns projects, so why hasn’t PBS been sensitive to this problem earlier?

· We have given Ms. Kerger one week, until Tuesday, March 13, 2007, to formally respond to us in writing.

For further information on this issue, please contact:

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

School of Journalism

The University of Texas at Austin

1 University Station A1000

Austin, TX 78712


Fax: 512-471-7979

Gus Chavez

Latino Community Development and Education Advocate

4674 Esther Street

San Diego, CA 92115

619-807-8938 (Cell)

619-286-9858 (Home)

Marta Garcia

Co-Chair and Founder

New York Chapter

National Hispanic Media Coalition

101 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-9758

Angelo Falcón

President and Founder

National Institute for Latino Policy

101 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10013



  1. This is truly laudable work. We need you guys as watch dogs. Now we need our media folks to start a whole media campaign that puts PBS and Burns on the line for being INACCURATE in telling their revisionist history.

    If they are inaccurate about us, they are probably inaccurate about others. We should start an online campaign utilizing the web as much as possible as well as viral email. This should go worldwide. The fact that Burns is inaccurate and is providing entertainment and not history. Also the fact that PBS is condoning it under the guise of artistic freedom–artistic freedom? I thought this was history and that above all else truth and accuracy were paramount.

  2. PBS hires Hispanic documentarian to work on Burns’ WWII series
    By Suzanne Gamboa

    Associated Press (April 17, 2007)

    WASHINGTON –PBS has hired a Hispanic documentarian to assist filmmaker Ken Burns with his upcoming World War II series, which had drawn complaints for failing to include the contributions of Hispanics.

    Hector Galan, a film and television producer from Austin, Texas, will be
    brought in to assist Burns with the 14-hour series, which has already been
    produced and is scheduled for release in September.

    Burns and PBS President Paula Kerger announced Galan’s hiring during a
    private meeting at a Washington hotel Tuesday with members of various
    Hispanic groups, members of Congress and other public television officials.
    Galan also attended the meeting.

    Darting into an elevator afterward, Burns said: “I feel like we listened, had a fair exchange and are moving to a win-win, positive solution to the problem.”

    “It’s fantastic,” said Galan, who produced the 1996 series “Chicano! History
    of The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement” for PBS.

    Galan said he viewed the series over the weekend. There were images of
    Hispanics, he said, but no discussion of their role in the war or how the
    war affected their place in American society.

    Hispanic groups protested that oversight, and asked that the film and
    educational materials be redone to add the stories of Hispanic veterans. PBS
    agreed to some of the requests last week.

    About half a million Hispanics are believed to have fought in the war and 15
    were Medal of Honor winners.

    Burns’ series, made over six years, tells the story of the war through people from four communities — Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Luverne, Minn. The film’s co-producer is Lynn Novick.

    Galan said he is putting aside work on another film on Latin rhythms to work
    with Burns. He described himself as a World War II buff whose father served
    in the war as a member of the Army Corps of Engineers.

    On the Net: Galan Inc.:
    Florentine Films:

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