By Steve Walker
I wonder how many San Antonio viewers watch the award winning ABC series, “What Would You Do?” hosted by reporter John Quiñones. It is the show that uses hidden cameras to film unsuspecting everyday people in public places in various scenarios.
The premise of the show is to see how people answer the question of “What Would You Do?” when you over hear some stranger loudly making rude or disparaging comments about others around them. The people who are rude and loud are actually actors portraying hostile and loud people.
The goal of the show’s producers is to film participants to get some sort of reaction from the immediate crowd to see if they will confront the abusive people (actors) to intervene on someone’s behalf or ignore the scenario all together by walking away.
Eventually the film crew, along with reporter Quiñones, reveal themselves to those involved in the scenario and inform them the bullies they have encountered and confronted are only actors. Quiñones then asks them how they felt about the situation and why they responded the way they did to perceived injustice.
Quiñones has won several Emmys for his long running show as well as other Emmys for his many years of reporting around the world.
Did you know that John Quiñones is a San Antonio native who graduated from Brackenridge High School as well as from St. Mary’s University?
Born in San Antonio May 23rd, 1952, he graduated in 1970 as a Brackenridge Eagle. Despite being a seventh-generation San Antonian and a seventh-generation American, Quiñones grew up in a Spanish speaking household and did not learn English until he started school at age 6.
When he was 13 years old, his father was laid off from his job as a janitor and John's family, including sisters Irma and Rosemary, joined a caravan of migrant farm workers and journeyed to Traverse City, Michigan to harvest cherries.
Quiñones shared his story to the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists (SAAHJ) last year when we honored him for his work in Journalism. He also shared the story at the annual Cesar Chavez March Gala this year as the Keynote Speaker. During this year’s Fiesta he also served as the Flambeau Grand Marshal.
I was thrilled to photograph him at all three events. What I noticed about him was his gracious and humble demeanor. People at those events flocked around him to get the chance to take a picture with him. At the SAAHJ Gala he patiently posed with fans for nearly an hour before the gala and of after the gala as well. He did the same thing at the Chavez Gala. I was able to take lots of photos of him with fans. And there were many.
Both times he spoke he mentioned the words of his father that imprinted him for life. Referencing working in the migrant fields he quoted: "Juanito, do you want to do this for the rest of your life? Or, do you want to get a college education?"
After graduating from St. Mary's University, he earned a Master’s Degree from Columbia University‘s School of Journalism. Not too shabby for a hometown hero.
Next time you hear somebody say, “What Would You Do?” remember John Quiñones and do what he did.
As always, I write just thought.
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Judge and Journalist