The Tale of Two Schools

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The Tale of Two Schools

SummaryGonzalo Mendez's family moved to Westminister, California from Mexico in 1919. At age 30, he became an American citizen. Mendez and his wife has three children, who speaks both English and Spanish. In 1945, when he went ot register his children for Westminister Main School, the children informed him that they would attend Hoover school. Mendez spoke with the principle of Westminister and Orange County school board, but no act was initiated. Mendez hired a lawyer which led him to discover that other Mexican-American students had been segregated.

A Place at the Table Chapter 8:

"The Tale of Two Schools"

Mendez v. Westminister (1945)On March 2, 1945, Mendez's lawyer filed a class action suit in a US district court on behalf of other people of Mexican and Latin descent. The defendents were four school districts, their superintendents, and their school board. The plaintiffs argued that their children were assigned to attend schools 'reserved for and attended solely and exclusively by children of Mexican and Latin descent' while other schools in the same district were 'reserved solely and exclusively for children known as white or Anglo-Saxon children.' The defendents argued there was no racial segregation because 'Mexicans were members of the white race'. Since the attorney could not argue that segregation based on race was unconstitutional because the US supreme court in Plessy versus Ferguson in 1896 had upheld racial segregation. The significant regionial impact had caused further lawsuits from Mexican Americans. However, a successful test case was found seven years later. Earl Warren wrote the historic opinion that ended the student segregation on the basis of race.

1940sMore than 80% of school districts in California with large Mexican populations practiced segregation. Educational curriculum was taught at Anglo schools, while Mexican schools focused on industrial labor as their "place in society".

Present DayThe two cases of Mendez v. Westminister and Brown v. Board of Education played significant roles for our education today, however fully led to complete intergration of American schools. Integration and equity are problems that are still planning to be solved today.

1954Earl Warren wrote the historic opinion that finally ended the legal segregation based off of a student's race.

April 14, 1947The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals condemned the "seperate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson.

February 18, 1946McCormick ruled in favor of the plaintiffs after Kent's apalling statement. He claimed that the seperate schools of social inequality "were in violation of the students' constitutional rights".

March 2, 1945Five Mexican-American families filed a lawsuit against segregated schools on the behalf of 5,000 Mexican-American students.

By:Leizel Malicdem Robin Lim


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