Google Doodle honors civil rights pioneer Felicitas Mendez for Hispanic Heritage Month

Google Doodle honors civil rights pioneer Felicitas Mendez for Hispanic Heritage Month
Felicitas Mendez was instrumental in desegregating U.S. public colleges.

Picture: Emily Barrera / Google

By Amanda Yeo

Nationwide Hispanic Heritage Month begins within the U.S. on September 15, celebrating the historical past, tradition, heritage, and achievements of Hispanic and Latino People. To mark the event, Google is releasing a Google Doodle honoring Felicitas Mendez, a Puerto Rican enterprise proprietor and civil rights pioneer who was instrumental in desegregating U.S. public colleges.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1916, Mendez moved to the U.S. as a preteen the place her household labored within the fields. She ultimately married Mexican immigrant Gonzalo Mendez, and collectively they opened bar and grill La Prieta in Santa Ana earlier than shifting to Westminster to lease an asparagus farm.

In 1944, the Mendez household tried to enrol their three youngsters Sylvia, Jerome, and Gonzalo Jr. in 17th Road Elementary Faculty — a whites-only college that was a lot better resourced than the Mexican college they have been attending. Nonetheless, the kids have been turned away on the idea that they have been “too darkish,” whereas their lighter-skinned cousins have been accepted.

This prompted the Mendezes to sue not solely the Westminster college district, however three different Orange County college districts as nicely. Joined by 4 different Mexican American fathers, the Mendezes spearheaded a category motion lawsuit to demand an finish to highschool segregation for five,00zero Mexican American college students. The go well with was additionally primarily funded by the Mendezes, helped by the success of their farm which Felicitas managed whereas Gonzalo centered on the go well with.

In 1946, the U.S. federal district court docket dominated that sustaining separate colleges for Mexican American youngsters was unconstitutional, because it denied them equal safety underneath the legislation. On the time, there was no express legislation regarding segregation of Mexican People, who have been legally thought-about white. This resolution was affirmed on attraction, laying groundwork not just for the combination of Californian public colleges, but additionally the Supreme Court docket’s landmark 1954 ruling that racial segregation in all U.S. public colleges was unconstitutional.

Google’s Doodle was created by Latina designer Emily Barrera, and depicts Mendez smiling as Gonzalo takes the couple’s three eldest youngsters to the previously whites-only college. Sylvia has since continued her dad and mom’ work in advocating for civil rights within the US, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

“Don’t you already know what we have been preventing?” she recalled her mom telling her, after a white boy had bullied Sylvia on her first day at her new college. “We weren’t preventing so you can go to that stunning white college. We have been preventing since you’re equal to that white boy.”

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