[Lacsf] FW Carlos Munoz Jr: " Before Brown VSBoard of Education"

Barrios, Maura barrios at iac.usf.edu
Mon May 17 17:08:30 EDT 2004

-----Original Message-----
From: American Association for Affirmative Action
[mailto:AAAA at HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM]On Behalf Of Monge, Eduardo
Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 1:24 PM
Subject: [AAAA] Personal commentary by Carlos Munoz Jr: " Before Brown
VSBoard of Education"

> Carlos Munoz Jr. is an award-winning author and professor emeritus in
> >the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California,
> >Berkeley.

> >Dear Friends:  I'd like to share my commentary  "50 years after 
> >Brown, Latinos paved way for historic school desegregation case" 
> >that went out on the Knight-Ridder wires today for publication on 
> >Monday, May 17th.  Peace, Carlos
> >
> > As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of
> >Education, we should also remember Mendez v. Westminster.
> > In 1950, a 7-year-old African-American girl by the name of
> >Linda Brown was denied admission to a white school near her home in
> >Topeka, Kan.
> > Her case resulted in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision
> >known as Brown v. Board of Education that ended racial segregation in
> >public schools. Its 50th anniversary is on May 17.
> > But six years earlier, in 1944, an 8-year-old Mexican
> >American girl by the name of Sylvia Mendez had been denied admission
> >to her local white school in Westminster, Calif.
> > Though most of the nation does not know about Sylvia, it was
> >her case that struck the first blow against segregation in the United
> >States. The case, known as Mendez v. Westminster, did not make the
> >Supreme Court's docket. It did not need to since the lower federal
> >courts decided in favor of Sylvia's case at the state level in 1945.
> >The case marked the end of legal school segregation in California.
> > Most people remain unaware of the significance of this case.
> > While Brown was a major accomplishment in the push for
> >equality, the Mendez case set the legal precedent that enabled the
> >Brown attorneys to win their arguments before the Supreme Court.
> > What's more, two key players in the Brown case were involved
> >in the Mendez case.
> > The first was an African-American lawyer by the name of
> >Thurgood Marshall. Marshall, who was later appointed a Supreme Court
> >justice in 1967, became the lead NAACP attorney in the 1954 Brown
> >case. His amicus brief filed for Mendez on behalf of the NAACP
> >contained the arguments he would later use in the Brown case.
> > The Mendez case also deeply influenced the thinking of the
> >California governor at the time, Earl Warren. By 1954 when the Brown
> >case appeared before the high court, Warren had become the chief
> >justice.
> > Long before Brown v. Board of Education, Mexican Americans
> >had engaged in numerous court battles against segregation. Those
> >cases paved the way for the eventual victory achieved by Mendez and
> >Brown.
> > The first Mexican American case, Salvatierra v. Independent
> >School District, took place in Del Rio, Texas, in 1930. Jesus
> >Salvatierra and other parents sued the town's school board on the
> >grounds that Mexican American students were being deprived of the
> >resources given white students. The district judge issued a ruling in
> >favor of the plaintiffs but the state's higher courts later
> >overturned it.
> > The following year in 1931, in a case known as Roberto
> >Alvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District,
> >Alvarez and others living in the Lemon Grove suburb of San Diego sued
> >the school district when the principal of the local elementary school
> >prevented Mexican American children from enrolling in his white
> >school.
> > These cases were based on national origins and language, not on
> race.
> > Mexican Americans in the Southwest, just as African-Americans
> >in the South, had to confront daily discrimination in all aspects of
> >their lives. Not only did many of them have to attend "Mexican
> >schools," they were also not allowed access to public places. Members
> >of my family vividly remember signs that read, "No Niggers, No
> >Mexicans, No Dogs."
> > Linda Brown and Sylvia Mendez symbolize the common history
> >that African-Americans and Latinos share. With that comes a common
> >responsibility to continue the struggle against the ongoing de-facto
> >segregation of young people of color at all levels of our nation's
> >educational system.
> >

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