Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice
Throughout his extraordinary life, Cruz Reynoso has been one of those rare individuals who are not shaped by history, but rather make history. This widely acclaimed and thought-provoking documentary explores the life and achievements of a man who felt the sting of injustice while growing up and later, as a lawyer, judge, and educator, fought for more than five decades to eradicate discrimination and inequality in American life.
Employing an informative and engaging mix of historical footage, interviews, authoritative commentary, and period music, the film provides an exemplary profile of a noted public figure and at the same time illustrates his impact on important recent history, especially the fight for social justice for farm workers and other immigrants.
Reynoso was born into a family of Spanish-speaking farm workers who had 11 children. The film relates Reynoso’s struggle for an education, which included degrees from Pomona College in 1953 and the University of California, Berkeley, Law School in 1958. He then became the first Latino Director of California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and later one of the first Latino law professors in the country, at the University of New Mexico Law School.
His ascent to the California Supreme Court was a singular achievement, as he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as the first Latino justice on that bench. Then in a heated recall campaign whose central issue was the death penalty, Reynoso and two other justices lost their seats. As Vice Chair on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he provided leadership in the only investigation of voting rights abuses in the 2000 election in Florida. He received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his lifelong devotion to public service. Today, at 78, he continues to teach law at UC Davis Law School and to actively participate in community organizations throughout California.
Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice chronicles the life of a man who gave Ronald Reagan fits by fighting for immigrants’ rights, and helped Cesar Chavez improve the lives of millions of farm workers. It will engage students and inspire thought and discussion in a wide range of courses in ethnic and Latino studies, American studies and history, sociology, law and jurisprudence, public policy, and contemporary social problems. It was produced by award-winning filmmaker Abby Ginzberg and narrated by noted actor and writer Luis Valdez. The DVD comes with both an English and Spanish subtitled version of the film.