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Mendez V Westminster Essay

Mendez vs Westminster

3800 WordsApr 29th, 201316 Pages

The Trial of the First desegregated school | By Marcos Moran | Even though forgotten, the stepping stone of Brown Vs. the Board of Education, Mendez Vs. Westminster was the first step to desegregate the United States of America. | |


Marcos Moran
Professor Sullivan
History 301 5/1/13
We all know of the famous trial that happen on May 17, 1954, a trial that ended all segregation in school districts all over the United States of America. With this law being enforce by the 14th amendment, it change the whole nation, colored people were now being allowed to enter into real academic schools, and compete for a better future. Of course I am talking about the Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, better known as…show more content…

. . . And since California law did not allow for separate Mexican schools, the requirement that children at tend such schools could be considered arbitrary action taken without ‘due process of law.’”(Charles Wollenberg, All Deliberate Speed, 1976, p. 127) This case could not have gone to the Supreme Court because the law of the state said nothing about segregating Mexican Americans in the Constitution (”. On Brown vs. the Board of Education it was a little different, because Black was considered a different race; and according to the Plessey vs. Ferguson case of 1896, it states it could segregate a race, as long as it provides a separate but equal law (
Now that we know a little bit more information about the trial, lets learn why all the Mexican American parents got together in order for their kids to get the same education as all the other Caucasian kids in the neighborhood. It all started in the late 1920s-1930s. As the Mexican and Mexican American population started to increase in California, more white Americans started getting scared; this led to segregation in schools. Not only were schools getting segregated but housing was also being segregated as well (Maria Blanco, The Lasting Impact of Mendez v. Westminster in the Struggle for Desegregation, pg.

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Years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended racial segregation in U.S. schools with Brown v. Board of Education, a federal circuit court in California ruled that segregation of school children was unconstitutional—except this case involved the segregation of Mexican American school children. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached this historic decision in the case of Mendez v. Westminster in 1947—seven years before Brown. Historic in its own right, Mendez was critical to the strategic choices and legal analysis used in arguing Brown and in shaping the ideas of a young NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall. Moreover, the Mendez case—which originated with LULAC but benefited from the participation of the NAACP—also symbolized the important crossover between different ethnic and racial groups who came together to argue in favor of desegregation.

From a legal perspective, Mendez v. Westminster was the first case to hold that school segregation itself is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment. Prior to the Mendez decision, some courts, in cases mainly filed by the NAACP, held that segregated schools attended by African American children violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because they were inferior in resources and quality, not because they were segregated.

From a strategic perspective, Thurgood Marshall’s participation in Mendez paid critical dividends for years to come. Marshall, who later would successfully argue the Brown v. Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually become the first African American Justice on the Supreme Court, participated in the Mendez appeal. His collaboration throughout the case with the Mendez attorney, David Marcus, helped ensure that the case would be an important legal building block for Marshall’s successful assault on the “separate but equal” doctrine. Although Marshall and Marcus differed in aspects of their legal approach to the segregation involved in the Mendez case, their exchanges about the stigma attached to segregation and the psychological damage caused by it undoubtedly played a large role in the Mendez litigation.

The link between Mexican Americans and African Americans in the struggle for desegregation has been obscured with time. Revisiting that link is important not only to understand the historic underpinnings of Brown, but also to realize one of the great truths in the struggle for equality: the consecutive and continuous movements to cast off the many varied mechanisms of subordination result from an iterative process of developing and connecting strategies and struggles between and among different peoples.