The Legacy of Sylvia Mendez: Books, Videos, and Lesson Plans
Learn more about the life and legacy of civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez and her family, who spearheaded a federal lawsuit which helped end school segregation in California and pave the way for Brown v. Board of Education.
Books and Classroom Resources
In the 1940s, Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez, who hailed from Puerto Rico and Mexico respectively, organized a group of Mexican-American families to file a lawsuit against the local California school districts who denied their children access to their schools.
This suit, Mendez v. Westminster, would eventually help end school segregation in California and pave the way for Brown v. Board of Education nearly a decade later. Sylvia Mendez, one of three children in the Mendez family, won a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
- Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling
- Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh (See related lesson plan)
- Mendez v. Westminster: Desegregating California's Schools (PBS Learning Media)
- Mendez v. Westminster: Early School Desgregation (Share My Lesson)
- Mendez v. Westminster: Lesson Plan (Museum of Tolerance)
- Toolkit for "Why Mendez Still Matters" (Teaching Tolerance)
- Mendez v. Westminster: Classroom Resource Text (Teaching Tolerance)
More related resources
- Celebrating Felicitas Mendez (Google Doodle & Resources)
- Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez (Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center)
- Who is Sylvia Mendez? (Sylvia Mendez Dual-Immersion Elementary)
- Mendez vs. segregation: 70 years later, famed case 'isn't just about Mexicans. It's about everybody coming together' (Los Angeles Times)
- Sylvia Mendez and California's School Desegregation Story (Education Week)