Interviewer:
David Badillo

A Conversation with
Sylvia Méndez

Sylvia Méndez, in addition to being one of the child plaintiffs in Mendez v. Westminster School District -- a case launched by her own (and other) concerned Latino parents -- became a student of that successful legal struggle in her own right. As an adult, Sylvia Méndez, in addition to being one of the child plaintiffs in Mendez v. Westminster School District -- a case launched by her own (and other) concerned Latino parents -- became a student of that successful legal struggle in her own right as an adult. Méndez learned much first hand through detailed conversations with her mother, Felicitas, who had left her native Puerto Rico during the 1920s for work in the harsh fields of Arizona before moving to California.

Show Content ↓  Hide Content ↑  Toggle Content ↓↑

Her sister, Sandra, learned about reading a college textbook (Carey McWilliams’ North from Mexico), Méndez researched forgotten aspects involving her family and the local community’s role in pursuing the successful district court decision in 1946, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the following year, as well as its aftermath in Mexican-American communities throughout the Southwest.

Méndez learned much first hand through detailed conversations with her mother, Felicitas, who had left her native Puerto Rico during the 1920s for work in the harsh fields of Arizona before moving to California. Sylvia Méndez researched forgotten aspects involving her family and the local community’s role in pursuing the successful district court decision in 1946, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the following year, as well as its aftermath in Mexican-American communities throughout the Southwest.

The documentary entitled Méndez vs. Westminster: For All the Children/Para todos los Niños (2003) includes interviews with Sylvia and Felicitas, as well as lawyers and commentators, in a fitting tribute to the pioneering civil rights work carried out in a rural southern California town by the Méndez family, the larger Westminster community, and others concerned with equal educational opportunity. In her December 2011 interview at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies in New York she poignantly and vividly discusses the challenges and rewards of growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, her parents’ involvement in the case, and the historical impact of the Méndez case for later generations of Latino schoolchildren.

ui bar footer skip content

Featuring Interviews

In Depth Interview with former mayor of Miami Maurice Ferre.
In Depth Interview with Hernan Badillo
In Depth Interview with Miguel Amadeo
In Depth Interview with Dr. Carmen Dolores
In Depth Interview with Sylvia Mendez

ui bar footer skip content