Mendez v. Westminster: A Living History
27 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2014
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
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