Senator Janet Nguyen was proud to honor the historic legacy of the Mendez family with Senate Concurrent Resolution 117 (SCR 117). SCR 117, co-authored by Senator Nguyen specifically establishes April 14, 2018 as Mendez v. Westminster School District Day and recognizes the contributions of Sylvia Mendez, who has dedicated her life to educate students about the national significance of her family’s efforts to bring educational equality to all children.
“Thanks to the brave efforts of Sylvia, her family and the other children and families who joined in this landmark class action lawsuit, California schools today and across the nation embrace the principle of equitable education,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “It was an honor for me to co-author this resolution and to personally meet Sylvia, who as a child, helped change our nation’s history for the better.”
In 1947, the Mendez family spearheaded a class action lawsuit against the Westminster School District to allow then nine-year-old Sylvia Mendez and other Mexican-American students to attend all-white schools. As a result of their lawsuit, a judge ruled that segregation violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Shortly thereafter, California Governor Earl Warren pushed a law to repeal segregation in California schools. Mendez v. Westminster established a national precedent for equality in education and set the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education.
Understanding the great impact of her family’s efforts, Sylvia Mendez has worked diligently to educate students throughout the nation about Mendez v. Westminster School District and to encourage them to stay in school. In 2011, Ms. Mendez’s efforts were recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In addition to the statewide designation of April 14, 2018 as Mendez v. Westminster School District Day, local efforts have been made to commemorate this landmark case.
The 34th District, which Senator Nguyen represents, is home to the Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School, which is located in the City of Santa Ana and carries the names of Sylvia Mendez’s parents. The 34th District is also home to the Mendez Historic Freedom Trail and is the future site of a park and monument that will be built in the City of Westminster.
This article was released by the Office of Senator Janet Nguyen.