Public Broadcast Laboratory
Episode Number
Mexican Americans: The Invisible Minority and None of My Business
Producing Organization
National Educational Television and Radio Center
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"None of My Business": Welfare seems to be turning into a major preoccupation of the new Administration. "None of My Business," first part of the Public Broadcast Laboratory episode seen in color on Sunday, April 20, sets out to debunk some widespread notions about life on welfare. There are more than eight million people on welfare rolls in the United States, and the number is growing every day. To some people, this statistic indicates a softening of the moral fiber in large sectors of the population, and an epidemic of sheer laziness. The facts, as PBL producer David Brenner notes, are that of those eight million, half are children too young to work, a third are aged people, too old to work, and some 700,000 are either blind or otherwise disabled, not able to work. Of the remaining 800,000 according to findings reported in the broadcast from a nationwide survey made by the Commission on Income Maintenance set up early last year by President Johnson, less than a quarter million welfare recipients could indeed work - if work was available to them. Last month (March) Brenner went to Fresno, to film hearings of the presidential Commission and to take a look at what life on welfare is like for income less people in the surrounding San Joaquin Valley. One of the world's most prosperous agricultural areas, the Dan Joaquin Valley has registered an increment in area wealth of one million dollars everyday of every year since 1950. Yet 13.5 percent of the valley's total populations are on welfare. That's 56,000 people. Fresno was one of 20 cities around the country selected by the Commission for full investigation in order to get a coherent picture of the welter of welfare episodes in the nation and how well they work. Last year, while Gross National Product increased by five percent, welfare rolls increased by 14 percent. The cost of welfare, nationally, has risen by 480 percent since 1950, to an estimated $7 billion for 1968-1969. The Commission has been trying to find out what has gone wrong. Late this year it is expected the Commission will recommend sweeping overhauls in the complex welfare structure, which varies steeply from city to city, from county to county, and from state to state. PBL producer Brenner remarks that the whole question of welfare must be brought down from America's attic, off the shelves where earlier reports on the seriousness of the welfare situation have long laid gathering dust. "We've got to realize that welfare and poverty are the concern of every one of us." "The Invisible Minority": Just as Stepin Fetchit was for decades one of the few Negroes visible in movies, the only Mexican American visible hitherto in network television was an Anglo, Bill Dana, with his Joes Jimenez character. No longer. "The Invisible Minority," a wide ranging documentary on America's second largest ethnic minority, the Mexican Americans, is televised on Public Broadcast Laboratory in color on Sunday evening, April 20. The report on the struggles of America's five million Mexican Americans for a better life follows "None of My Business," a documentary on what life on welfare is like, and by "A Word to the Sponsor," a short look at some of the effects of television on small children. "The Invisible Minority" ranges over the Southwest, where most of the nation's five million Americans of Mexican descent and birth live, from the ghettos of Southern California to Denver, from the San Joaquin Valley to Beeville in Texas. The documentary chronicles efforts to win not only a better material life, but to maintain and develop an ethnic identity and a sense of dignity. From Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers Organizing Committee in the California vineyards to Reies Lopez Tijerina and his Federal Alliance of Free City States in Arizona and New Mexico to Rudolfo "Corky" Gonzalez and his Crusade for Justice in Denver, the broadest traces the development of the sense of "La Raiza," the almost mystical notion of the history and destiny of a race that had attained high civilization on this continent thousands of years before Columbus. To Joseph Louw, the PBL producer of the broadcast (and a black exile from South Africa), the descendent of Montezuma are now princes and kings of poverty. Fleeing the economic exploitation to which Mexican Americans have been so long subjected in many rural areas of the southwest yesterday's campesinos are moving to the cities. Many, however, remain behind, living below subsistence level. Louw notes that a civil rights movement is just beginning among Mexican Americans, a "Brown Power" movement largely inspired by - and to some extent obscured by - the black revolution. In the broadcast, Dr. Ernesto Galarza historian of the faculty of San Jose State College and a consultant to the Ford Foundation on Mexican American affairs warns that a critical stage in the evolution of Mexican Americans is fast approaching, due to widespread lack of sympathy or understanding for the minority's aspirations. "Dreary days ahead," the historian predicts. "Viva la Raiza" is the motto of Rudolfo Gonzales' Centro de la Crusada in Denver. A pugilist turned poet and activist, Gonzalez is struggling to restore to Anglicized - or Americanized - Mexican Americans a sense of their own worth, largely through celebration of the Mexican American heritage. According to Gonzales, the talk is not overwhelmingly difficult: "We're right next door to our own culture." "Viva la Raiza" is one of the slogans of the Delano grape strike. Louw notes that its leader, Cesar Chavez, is struggling to impart to the migrant workers now long engaged in "La Heuelga" a sense of their own dignity and potential, as well as trying to get for them a living wage. In East Los Angeles, home of some 700,000 Mexican Americans, the broadcast documents an instance in which concerned community action raised by "La Raiza" secured the reinstatement of a Mexican American teacher who had been suspended by the school system. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
PBL consists of 47-54 ninety-minute episodes.
Asset type
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Politics and Government
Media type
Moving Image
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Producer: Brenner, David
Producer: Louw, Joseph
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
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Chicago: “Public Broadcast Laboratory; 221; Mexican Americans: The Invisible Minority and None of My Business,” 1969-04-20, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 5, 2021,
MLA: “Public Broadcast Laboratory; 221; Mexican Americans: The Invisible Minority and None of My Business.” 1969-04-20. American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 5, 2021. <>.
APA: Public Broadcast Laboratory; 221; Mexican Americans: The Invisible Minority and None of My Business. Boston, MA: American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from