Their Victory is Our Victory

In March 1945 five Mexican American families sued four school districts in Westminster, Orange County, California, on behalf of an entire community whose children were required to attend segregated "Mexican schools." Their class action lawsuit became known as Mendez et al. v. Westminster School District el al. After two years of fighting, the families won their case. At the time, this was the most important legal victory in the fight against segregation the nation had ever known.

Today, their victory still teaches a valuable lesson: if we share a sense of community and the courage to seek places to learn and our communities better places to live.

We visited the old Orange County Courthouse where there was an exhibit about the legal struggle. We presented a screening of Stand of for Justice, the docudrama about Ralph Lazo who joined his Japanese American friends in Manzanar. We had dinner with the director of the Museum of Teaching and Learning, Greta Nagel, Ph.D., and Gonzalo Mendez Jr. (son of the primary litigant). The presenters were Patty & Steve Nagano. Janice Yen and Suzy Katsuda were also in attendance.

L to R: Greta Nagel Ph.D., museum director, Gonzolo Mendez Jr. (son of litigant), Suzy Katsuda, Steve Nagano, Patty Nagano, Janice Yen. Photo credit--Janice Yen--suzy