2014 Mich. St. L. Rev. 401 (2014)
Mendez v. Westminster: A Living History

handle is hein.journals/mslr2014 and id is 441 raw text is: MENDEZ V. WESTMINSTER: A LIVING HISTORY
Frederick P. Aguirre, Kristi L. Bowman, Gonzalo Mendez, Sylvia
Mendez, Sandra Robbie & Philippa Strum*
2014 MICH. ST. L. REv. 401
In April 2014, Michigan State University and the University of
Missouri Kansas City co-hosted a two-day symposium exploring the
past, present, and future of school desegregation. The first panel
focused on Mendez v. Westminster,1 a federal court decision in
1946. Mendez is significant for many reasons: it was the first time a
federal court ordered school desegregation, it represented a major
victory for Latino and Latina civil rights, and it helped lay the
foundation for the Brown v. Board2 litigation and the Supreme
Court's decision. What follows is a transcript of the compelling and
historic discussion about the Mendez case.
Professor Kristi L. Bowman: Good morning, my name is Kristi
Bowman, and I am a Professor of Law at Michigan State University
in East Lansing, Michigan. On behalf of all the conference
organizers, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to this conference.
As you know, this is a two-day videoconference with half of each
panel live in Kansas City and half live here in East Lansing. Our goal
is for the conference to be a fully integrated experience.
We begin this conference with a discussion of Mendez v.
Westminster, a case we do not usually hear much about, although
that is changing. Let's turn the clock back about eighty years to talk
about some of the first court-ordered school desegregation in this
country, which occurred in California. The students who were
segregated from one another were not whites and blacks, but rather
* Frederick P. Aguirre is a judge on the Superior Court of Orange County
and speaks frequently about Mendez. Kristi L. Bowman is a Professor of Law at
Michigan State University College of Law. Gonzalo Mendez is a retired master
carpenter. Sylvia Mendez is a retired pediatric nurse and recipient of the Presidential
Medal of Freedom. Sandra Robbie works at Chapman University and is the writer
and producer of the documentary about Mendez: For All the Children. Philippa
Strum is a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Institute for Scholars and the
author of OUR CHILDREN ARE AMERICANS MENDEZ V. WESTMINSTER AND MEXICA4N-
AMERICAN RiGHTS (2010).
1. Mendez v. Westminster Sch. Dist., 64 F. Supp. 544, 545 (S.D. Cal
1946) aff'd, 161 F.2d 774 (9th Cir. 1947) (enbanc).
2. Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

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