The College of Educational Studies is hosting 60 participants from the 42nd Annual California Association for Bilingual Education conference being at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel this year. Teachers and administrators will be on our campus on Saturday, April 1st for a half day institute to learn about the 1946/7 Mendez et al v. Westminster et al case, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The institute will set the case within a broader analysis of Latino education in the United States, while providing valuable insights and information that can support teachers.

As of this past year, the once unsung victory of the Orange County plaintiffs who challenged the segregation of Mexican children in schools, is finally included in the California History/Social Science curriculum framework, along with other pivotal civil rights cases in education.

A sub-theme of the institute is “Honoring the past to engage in 21st century education for Latino students”,  which includes an archival display with artifacts from the period that are housed in our Special Collections at Leatherby Libraries, under the guidance of Randall Boyd.

The institute begins with an overview of Latino Civil Rights History and The Condition of Latino Education in the U.S. by Dr. Anaida Colón-Muñiz. This is followed by an engaging discussion on cross-cultural connections that led to the success of the case. This is presented by Sandra Robbie who won an Emmy for producing the documentary film, For All the Children/Para Todos los Niños, and who is launching an Random Acts of Mendez campaign, designed to build peace and tolerance in turbulent times.

Judge Frederick P. Aguirre (Ret) will be helping participants to Connect the Dots from Mendez to Brown, as he reaffirms the links from one case to the other.  A panel on The Importance of Teaching Latino History will be led by Dr. Miguel Zavala, who will also highlight Opportunities and Challenges of Higher Education. Superintendent of Anaheim High School District and Chapman Alum, Michael Matsuda will share how he Makes it Happen, addressing instruction of civil rights history in his district, while Chapman Alum and Garden Grove USD high school teacher, Jared Wallace shares how he is teaching  about MvW in his classroom: Teaching MvW in Practice.

After engaging in dialogue groups to spur on new ways to implement instruction on the topics presented, the participants will head out for the OC PeaceRide, a Guided Tour of Segregated Areas and OC History, led by Sandra Robbie.

The morning ends with a Meet and Greet with plaintiff and recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Honor, Sylvia Mendez and other guests.  A reception will take place at the Chapman University Centro Comunitario de Educación in Santa Ana, with a backdrop of video clips from case re-enactment in Riverside, California Court of Appeal last year, under the direction of Judge Manuel A. Ramirez.

“The heart of the Mendez lawsuit was five fathers and mothers who saw their children being denied access to the quality public education they had been promised as American citizens, and that was being delivered to their non-Hispanic neighbors,” commented Presiding Justice Ramirez. “They saw it as unfair and wrong, and that it was hurting their children. So because of the courage and resolve of those parents, California became the first state in this country to legally abolish segregation in public schools.” Judge Ramirez

Contact Dr. Anaida Colon-Muniz ( for questions or information.

Reference Notes:

Mendez v. Westminster School District of Orange County (D. Cal. 1946) 64 F. Supp. 544; Westminster School District of Orange County v. Mendez (9th Cir. Cal. 1947) 161 F.2d 774

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) 347 U.S. 483