STOCKTON — Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Sylvia Mendez will speak at Delta College on Tuesday for Constitution Day, a commemoration of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
The event is free and open to the public.
Mendez is the daughter of Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, whose lawsuit in the 1940s paved the way for desegregation of schools across the U.S.
The case began after the Mendez children were denied admission at a school in Orange County and were required to go to a “Mexican school” instead. More than 70 years later, Sylvia Mendez travels the country sharing her own memories of that time and telling the story of her parents.
“This is the history of the United States, the history of California,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2016. “Mendez isn’t just about Mexicans. It’s about everybody coming together. If you start fighting for justice, then people of all ethnicities will become involved.”
Tuesday’s event is from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Tillie Lewis Theatre on the Delta College campus. The film “Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children” will be shown, and Sylvia Mendez will speak about her family’s involvement in the groundbreaking case.
People from across campus and the community came together to make it possible for Sylvia Mendez to share her story at Delta College, said Business Law Professor Steve McCarty, who helped organize the Constitution Day event.
“It is an inspirational story of how a community stood up against discrimination to help make California the first state in the nation to desegregate public schools,” he said. “Mendez v. Westminster is an important — and too often neglected — part of our state and national history that can continue to empower students and our community to seek social justice."
Tuesday’s event is just one in a series recognizing Latinx Heritage Month. Click here for details on other events.