Hispanic Heritage Month:
Mendez v. Westminster
September 27, 2013
Who: Mendez v. Westminster
Where: Los Angeles
Mendez v. Westminster claimed that Mexican-American children were unconstitutionally being forced to go to schools for Mexicans
In 1946, eight years prior to Brown v. Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, Mexican-Americans had a similar victory in California under Mendez, et al v. Westminster School District, et al.
Five Mexican-American fathers (Thomas Estrada, William Guzman, Gonzalo Mendez, Frank Palomino, and Lorenzo Ramirez) challenged the practice of school segregation in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The parents claimed that their children, along with 5,000 other students of Mexican ancestry, were victims of unconstitutional discrimination because they were being forced to go to schools for Mexicans in Orange County. The fathers won.
Mr. Mendez initiated the lawsuit after his three children were denied entrance to their local school in Westminster.
In February 2011, President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mendezs daughter, Sylvia, and his sons, Gonzalo Jr. and Jerome.
Photo credit: http://www.mendezvwestminster.com/