Jan. 19 ‘Coffee and Conversation’ Series Screens ‘Las Marthas’

News Release Date: 
January 6, 2014

For Immediate Release

Jan. 19 ‘Coffee and Conversation’ Series Screens ‘Las Marthas’

LINCOLN, Neb. (Jan. 6, 2014) -- NET’s next “Coffee and Conversation in the Community” film and discussion series begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, with a screening of “Las Marthas,” at Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at 313 N. 13th St. on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

“Coffee and Conversation” is free and open to the public. A moderated discussion of the film follows the screening. The films are shown in partnership with ITVS Community Cinema, Lincoln community radio station KZUM (89.3 FM), the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Malone Community Center.

The annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas, is unlike any other in the country. The festival lasts an entire month and coincides with George Washington's birthday. For more than a century the city's coming-out celebrations have involved intricate paeans to America's colonial past.

In 1939, the Society of Martha Washington was founded to usher each year's debutantes (called “Marthas”) into proper society at the Colonial Pageant and Ball. The girls' attendants also dress as figures from America's colonial history and participate in traditional ceremonies. The centerpiece of the festivities is the Martha Washington Pageant and Ball, when the girls are presented in elaborate dresses that take up to a year to create.

The festival — which dates from the aftermath of the Spanish-American War and was shaped by the North-South tensions following the Civil War, resonates anew in a time of economic uncertainty and political tension over immigration. Still, the Washington Celebration has managed to persevere and even flourish, thanks in large part to the Mexican American girls who carry this gilded tradition on their young shoulders.

Panelists for the post-film discussion are James Garza, UNL associate professor of history and ethnic studies, who has done research on the debutante ball as part of his studies of Mexican immigration to the United States; and Rita Rodriguez, regional co-director for “Quinceañera Magazine Nebraska,” a quarterly statewide publication for teenage Latinas and a founder of the Quinceañera Foundation, a non-profit organization that grants scholarships to Latina students. Joining her will be four “Miss Cover Girls” who model for the magazine. Jasel Cantu, public information officer for the Nebraska Latino American Commission, will moderate.

ITVS Community Cinema is a public education and civic engagement initiative featuring screenings of films from PBS’s “Independent Lens” in 100 cities and online. Between September and June, Community Cinema brings together leading organizations, community members and public television stations to learn, discuss and get involved in today’s critical social issues.

“Our vision for the ‘Coffee and Conversation’ series is to engage a network of citizens and organizations to act locally and reach out globally,” said Marthaellen Florence, NET Community Engagement and Educational Outreach director.

For more information on the series and NET Community Engagement and Educational Outreach, check the NET website at http://netNebraska.org/engage


CONTACT: NET Community Outreach director Marthaellen Florence, 402-470-6603 or mflorence@netNebraska.org
RELEASE WRITTEN BY: Kim Hachiya, 402-470-6694, or khachiya@netNebraska.org

NET Television:
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