Merced

Cruz Reynoso's live story part of TV documentary

Los Angeles-- 'Cruz Reynoso, Sowing the Seeds of Justice' is the name of a PBS documentary about the life and career as a judge of a son of Mexican immigrants. Reynoso, now 80, continues fighting against discrimination and inequalities.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, PBS will air the hour-long, award-winning documentary produced and directed by Abby Ginzberg.

"I have always admired Cruz Reynoso for his lifelong commitment to social justice, for the contributions he has made to facilitate legal services to the poor and for protecting the rights of voters," said Ginzberg.

"His life and his career are connected to important aspects of California and U.S. history, in ways that younger generations are unaware of," said Ginzberg.

"Furthermore, I wanted to share the history of Judge Reynoso with the general public, especially the Latino youth with the hope of inspiring them learn about his career and seeing a much bigger future for themselves," said the director.

Born in 1931 in Brea, California, Reynoso was the third of 11 children born to Mexican immigrants who came to the United States from Los Altos de Jalisco. The parents worked in the fields of Orange County, where, Reynoso recalls, he began working at age 7 harvesting oranges and other fruits.

He, along with his siblings, attended segregated schools.

My first battle began at a very early age, because the reason they gave to justify sending us to those (segregated) schools, of lower academic quality, was that we didn't speak English. But that reason never convinced me because we spoke perfect English," said Reynoso during a telephone interview.

Reynoso said his passion was painting, and he began to study art because he had the talent. However, the desire to win justice for the most needy won out.

He graduated from Pomona College with high grades and later earned his law degree in 1958 from UC Berkeley where he was the only Latino graduate.

Reynoso was the first Latino director of the California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), which provided legal help to poor farmworkers throughout the state during the first days of the farmworker movement led by César Chávez.

He later became the first Latino on the California Supreme Court when he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, and later received the Presidential Medal of Liberty from President Bill Clinton.

He continues to teach law at UC Davis Law School.

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