CRF Blog

How Mexican immigrants ended ‘separate but equal’ in California

by Bill Hayes

In How Mexican immigrants ended ‘separate but equal’ in California, the Los Angeles Times looks at the groundbreaking case of Mendez v. Westminster, decided long before Brown v. Board of Education.

In 1943, five Mexican American families took four school districts in Orange County to court, challenging the “separate but equal” education their American-born children were getting in “Mexican schools.” They knew their kids were treated as second-class citizens: taught by underpaid teachers, forced to use books and desks discarded by Anglo students, relegated to shoddy school buildings where the classrooms had so little light that reading was almost impossible.

The lack of resources, however, wasn’t what the plaintiffs in the case, Mendez et al vs. Westminster et al, complained about to the courts. Instead, they mounted a frontal attack on segregated schools …. [more]

CRF has a free Bill of Rights in Action online lesson titled Mendez v. Westminster. It is part of CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive.