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In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, PBS filmmaker John Valadez brought two new films on the Mexican-American experience to St. Mary’s University on Oct. 10, 2013.

War and Peace and Prejudice and Pride, produced by Valadez and Dan McCabe, are part of the series “Latino Americans.” The films were shown in Conference Room A of the University Center, and each was followed by a panel discussion.

Prejudice and Pride shows Mexican-Americans’ struggle for civil rights during the 1960s and ’70s. It features the political impact of St. Mary’s alumni Jose Angel Gutierrez, J.D., a founder of the Raza Unida Party in Texas and currently a political science professor at The University of Texas-Arlington, and the late William C. “Willie” Velasquez, who was a prominent voting rights activist.

Velasquez’s widow, Janie Velasquez, sat on the panel, which also included Charles Cotrell, Ph.D., St. Mary’s University President Emeritus and Professor of Political Science; Valadez; and Rosie Castro, civil rights activist and mother of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and Congressman  Joaquín Castro.

War and Peace illustrates what life was like for Mexican Americans and Latinos at home and abroad during the time around World War II. After the screening, the discussion features retired Navy Capt. Robert L. Summers Jr., J.D., St. Mary’s Professor of Law; Placido Salazar, former national executive secretary of the American G.I. Forum; Valadez; and retired Army Maj. Raymond R. Leal Jr., Ph.D., St. Mary’s Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

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