PBS to rebroadcast documentary on Zoot Suit Riots
PBS is re-broadcasting a documentary on the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots — one of the most violent race riots in Los Angeles history.
Why it matters: The Zoot Suit Riots served as a crucial moment in Mexican American history, highlighting the often-overlooked racial violence Latinos faced.
The big picture: Aug. 2 will mark the 80th-anniversary of the murder of a young Mexican American man that sparked the eventual Zoot Suit Riots, named after a type of clothing — baggy dress pants and long-tailed coats — some young Mexican Americans wore during that time.
Catch up quick: The film follows the tensions that led mobs of white sailors to violently attack Mexican American youth in Los Angeles in June 1943.
- The August 2, 1942, murder of José Díaz ignited a frenzy over youth violence, with media outlets publishing racist stories about Latino gangs.
- During the hysteria, Los Angeles police rounded up 600 Mexican Americans who wore "zoot suits."
- According to the Library of Congress, 22 Mexican Americans were tried together in one of the largest mass trials in California history.
- Seventeen were convicted of various charges, including three men convicted of first-degree murder, although all of the convictions were overturned. They were released after serving two years in prison.
- The Diaz murder is unsolved.
The film will stream simultaneously with broadcast beginning Tuesday and will be available on all station-branded PBS platforms and outside streaming services.
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