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”:
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.
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.