Mendez v. Westminster: A Living History

27 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2015

See all articles by Frederick Aguirre

Frederick Aguirre

Superior Court of Orange County

Kristine L. Bowman

Michigan State University College of Law

Gonzalo Mendez

Independent

Sylvia Mendez

Independent

Sandra Robbie

Independent Documentary Filmmaker

Philippa Strum

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

School desegregation is not just a "black and white" issue, and in fact it never has been. In 1931, a county court in Lemon Grove, California ordered a school district to stop segregating its white and Latino students. Fifteen years later in 1946, a court reached the same result in Mendez v. Westminster, becoming the first federal court to order the desegregation of schools. In this piece, Gonzalo Mendez and Sylvia Mendez (both now retired) recall their experiences as the children whose parents initiated the groundbreaking Mendez litigation, and the way in which their parents remembered the litigation. Sandra Robbie, who wrote and produced the Emmy-award winning documentary about the case, discusses its historical context. Frederick Aguirre, now a judge, reflects on the legal and personal significance of the decision. Philippa Strum, author of a book about the case, considers the unique challenges and rewards of writing about school desegregation cases. Kristi Bowman facilitates these various reflections and weaves them together.

Keywords: school, education, race, ethnicity, integration, desegregation, Mendez v. Westminster, Latino and Latina rights

Suggested Citation

Aguirre, Frederick and Bowman, Kristine L. and Mendez, Gonzalo and Mendez, Sylvia and Robbie, Sandra and Strum, Philippa, Mendez v. Westminster: A Living History (2014). Michigan State Law Review, No. 3, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2629146

Frederick Aguirre

Superior Court of Orange County

CA

Kristine L. Bowman (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States
517-432-6974 (Phone)

Gonzalo Mendez

Independent

No Address Available

Sylvia Mendez

Independent

No Address Available

Sandra Robbie

Independent Documentary Filmmaker ( email )

No Address Available

Philippa Strum

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ( email )

One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004-3027
United States

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