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Friends of the Fullerton College Library

March 22, 2007 @ 12:00pm in Campus Theater

[flyer] [Aguirre article]

Mendez family

The Friends of the Fullerton College Library are pleased to announce that Sylvia Mendez, Gonzalo Mendez, Jr., Jerome “Geronimo” Mendez, Mike Matsuda, and Judge Frederick P. Aguirre will participate in a panel discussion about how the California legal case Gonzalo Mendez, et al. vs. Westminster School District of Orange County, et al. forever changed their lives. On Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 12 noon in the Campus Theater, Adela Lopez, Fullerton College Ethnic Studies Department Coordinator and faculty member, will moderate this discussion to present the personal story behind the legal case which was initiated by the Mendez family in 1944.

The children of Gonzalo Mendez, a Mexican immigrant, and his wife Felicitas Mendez, a Puerto Rican, were born in Orange County. The three eldest children were nine, eight, and seven when they were turned away from the Westminster Grammar School due to the color of their skin and their last name. Mike Matsuda, North Orange County Community College Board of Trustee member and co-author of Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children – An American Civil Rights Victory, writes, “This profound story has impacted everyone of us, regardless of race, and truly gives meaning to the phrase-‘and justice for all’." Judge Frederick P. Aguirre adds, “My father and other Latino World War II veterans used the precedent set in the Mendez case to convince the Trustees of the Placentia School Board to end the practice of segregating Latino children in separate but inferior schools. Thus, I was able to attend an integrated public grammar school, receive a quality education and compete on an equal ground with all the students from my hometown."

The Mendez family is finally beginning to be recognized for their contributions. In 2003, Representative Loretta Sanchez submitted House Concurrent Resolution 200, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary recognizing “Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, and those who actively supported their efforts, for ending segregation in schools in Orange County, California, and for setting the precedent for the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, which ended segregation in schools across the United States and declared the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ unconstitutional.” A U.S. postage stamp memorializing the case will be issued later this year.


Last update: October 7, 2010

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