Separate Has Never Been Equal When It Comes to Educating Black Children

Black History Month is a great time to talk about why education is an important civil right.

Especially since there is such a close connection to the struggle of Black and Brown citizens in America. 

“We hear a lot about Brown v. Board (rightfully so!), but you hear very little about this groundbreaking court case that promoted integration for Latino kids!” – Gordon Wright 

Rarely, if ever, do we hear about the groundbreaking Mendez vs Orange County court case that promoted integration for Latino kids.

Particularly for Black and brown students  who have faced severe and systemic segregation for generations.

The Mendez family filed suit against Orange County to allow Mexican-American students to attend school with white children.

Their victory empowers equity for Hispanic communities. Some facts that you should know about the case:

  • On March 2, 1945 the Mendez family officially sued the county

  • After more than two years, on April 15, 1947, they won the case

  • Before the case desegregated California schools, Mexican-American students were forced to be in separate and unequal “Mexican schools.”

  • The Mendez family is the subject of the children’s book “Separate Is Never Equal”:
    http://www.abramsbooks.com/product/separate-is-never-equal_9781419710544/

Sylvia Mendez is an educational pioneer for Brown children.  

Sylvia Mendez is still alive and speaking today about the case.

She is a true Latina hero for equity and reform, what they would call a Luchadora over at La Comadre.

She has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Education was a critical stepping stone to her success.

She completed Nursing school and throughout her career became the Assistant Nursing Director of the Pediatric Pavilion at the Los Angeles University of Southern California Medical Center.

She is now retired from the medical profession. However, she believes that her story is a constant reminder to the heritage and history of Hispanic American citizens.

We too have a story to tell as American citizens. 


Sylvia’s story is truly a motivational piece to help change the educational rights of Hispanic students in America.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

  2 comments for “Separate Has Never Been Equal When It Comes to Educating Black Children

  1. Marcus
    February 13, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Was separate ever equal? Education around the world today is still segregated from many different ethnic groups and races. According to the text, many schools in America are still segregated. This is a way of making schools in our country think differently about students. However the Mendez vs orange county case proves that separation by race or ethnicity in schools is wrong. The brown vs board of education case helped end public school segregation. We don’t want it to start again! Although there were many conflicts in the Brown vs Board of education case, they still achieved what they were trying to do. This shows that segregation schools should be resolved and forbidden to happen.

  2. Xitlaly
    February 13, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Go back to Mexico, You don’t belong here! These words are often said to us Latina/Latino people. We get criticized and judged by our culture and the way we appear. According to the “Ruling Gives Mexican Children Equal Rights” article, it is quoted by Judge McCormick that “Spanish speaking children are “retarted” in learning English by lack of exposure to its use because of segregation. It is somewhat true, without American children helping Spanish students, they wouldn’t be very successful. Being separate doesn’t really have any benefits. In fact, working together helps get work done faster and efficiently. In addition being separate is unfair and wrong. Further more, schools in the U.S are still segregated till this day, with at least most of the percentage being African-American Or Caucasian and even Hispanic, etc . Above all, I strongly support the Mendez vs Orange county court case and Board vs Board of education, because everyone should be able to receive the same education equally. In conclusion, as a proud Mexican-American and Latina, I am grateful to be able to receive the same education in the same school with other peers from different and the same ethnic groups thanks to the Mendez vs Orange county court case and most importantly the Brown vs Board of education case.

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