Miguel De La Torre Contributes to
Documentary on the
Posted January 3, 2003
HOLLAND -- Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre of the Hope
College religion faculty is part of a team of scholars
developing a documentary on the Americas that will be
released via the Public Broadcasting Service.
The project, "Two Americas: The Legacy of Our
Hemisphere," will consider the Western Hemisphere as
dominated by two cultures, one shaped primarily by England
and the other by Spain. The five-part miniseries is being
prepared, according to the production team, in light of the
way that the two cultures are increasingly brought into
contact, particularly through the current, on-going wave of
Latin American immigration into the U.S.
"With this trend likely to continue, we need a
deeper understanding of the forces that have shaped our
rapidly shrinking hemisphere," the team notes in its online
overview of the project.
The series will explore the origins and character
of both cultures in examining the challenges of the present.
"By examining the collective history of the two
Americas, we discover two great ironies: The U.S. has
developed a culture founded on the ideals of liberty and
freedom yet has struggled to extend those ideals to people
of all races and ethnic groups," the team explains.
"Conversely, in Latin America, a group of cultures often
formed by ruthless conquest has nevertheless managed to
develop a greater degree of racial and ethnic harmony."
The team has approached the project believing that
both cultures can learn from each other.
"We can begin to see [the immigrants'] arrival not
as a threat but as an opportunity to continue invigorating
our society with the vitality and enterprise of newcomers.
We can discover how these newcomers bring with them a less
rigid racial attitude that can help enrich our nation with
the bounty of diversity and the virtue of tolerance. Once
here, like the many immigrants who have come before, they
will learn to cherish the ideals of democracy that have made
the U.S. a beacon of freedom for the world."
The series will personalize the history by sharing
the stories of several real-life characters, including
explorer John Cabot; conquistador Francisco Pizarro; Amador
DeLares, a Spanish noble who brought the first slaves to
Cuba; Pachacutti, the ninth Inca, who became leader of the
Incas in 1483; Jane Fuller, a Mayflower colonist; and Jim, a
slave in 1800s Kentucky.
The film team is led by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.,
who is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at
Howard University. In addition to De La Torre, other
scholars on the team include Dr. Oscar Alvarez Gila,
professor of history at the Universidad del Pais Vasco in
Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; Dr. Franklin W. Knight, who is the
Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History at Johns
Hopkins University; and Dr. Richard W. Slatta, professor of
history at North Carolina State University.
The series is being developed by B/R/C
Productions, a division of B/R/C Marketing Inc. of Dayton,
Ohio. The executive producer is Daniel B. Polin, president
and founder of Great Projects Film Company.