The Times podcast: The case that ended ‘Mexican-only’ schools

Sylvia Mendez
Sylvia Mendez visits an eighth-grade history class at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana. The building is named after her parents Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, who won the landmark school desegregation case Mendez, et al. vs. Westminster 75 years ago.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

In 1945, five families sued school districts in Orange County to challenge the practice of so-called Mexican schools, which kept Latino students from attending white schools with better resources. The daughter of one of the plaintiffs, Sylvia Mendez, has spent her retirement telling the story of the landmark desegregation case, which was decided 75 years ago on April 14, 1947.


But she goes from school to school talking about the importance of this case at a time when Latino students are, in many ways, more segregated than ever.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times education reporter Paloma Esquivel

More reading:

Mendez vs. segregation: 70 years later, famed case ‘isn’t just about Mexicans. It’s about everybody coming together’

Op-Ed: How Mexican immigrants ended ‘separate but equal’ in California

Westminster council takes steps to recognize historic civil rights case

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra, Shannon Lin and Kasia Broussalian and producers David Toledo, Ashlea Brown and Angel Carreras. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editor is Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmín Aguilera and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.