LULAC SUPPORTS NAMING THE LOS ANGELES FEDERAL COURTHOUSE FOR FELICITAS AND GONZALO MENDEZ
Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Five California Familias Made History that Opened Education Opportunities for Latinos in America
September 28, 2023
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Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) proudly expresses our strong support for Congressman Jimmy Gomez's proposed legislation designating the Los Angeles U.S. Courthouse in honor of Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez, celebrating the contributions of the five families that made history. LULAC filed the lawsuit that led to ending a century of segregation in America's public schools.
"LULAC wholeheartedly supports the renaming of this courthouse after two of the people whose courage made the dream of a quality education a reality for generations of Latinos," says Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. "LULAC championed Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez and the five familias all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to change the lives of millions of Latino children. LULAC's action led to a victory seven years before Brown vs. Board of Education wiped out educational injustice in the United States
The legacy of the Mendez family and the four others was ignited when their daughter Sylvia and her siblings were cruelly denied admission to a whites-only school due to their Mexican heritage. Just a year later, LULAC and the Mendez family's unyielding determination culminated in the landmark verdict propelling California to become the first state in the nation to officially desegregate its public schools. The Mendez arguments were the same in Brown vs. Board of Education, which wiped out school segregation nationally. LULAC started the battle for education justice.
"California LULAC rises along with a wide coalition of many others to urge the renaming of the LA Federal Courthouse as the Mendez Federal Courthouse," says Jacob Sandoval, California LULAC State Director. The Mendez could only dream of what we are living today; thanks to their efforts, Latino youngsters are in classrooms in public education across the United States and Puerto Rico, learning and advancing like all other children in our country. We are indebted to Felicitas and Gonzalo for standing up and saying, 'We demand justice,' and they got it!"
Our nation's public institutions should mirror the rich tapestry of diversity that encapsulates our history and defines our strength. Nevertheless, among the 200+ designated United States courthouses nationwide, only 20 bear the names of people of color, with merely 6 honoring women. The Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez United States Courthouse would stand as a beacon of progress, becoming the first federal edifice to bear the name of a Latina and only the eighth to commemorate Hispanic Americans. Situated within the county boasting the largest Latino population in the United States, the renaming of this courthouse pays homage to the diverse heritage of its inhabitants. It pays tribute to the monumental strides made in civil rights because of five families LULAC helped to raise their voices.
Garcia adds, "LULAC urgently calls for expediting the passage of this bill so that the enduring and historic impact of the Mendez family and the Mendez v. Westminster case may be permanently etched into the annals of history, inspiring Angelenos and all Americans for generations to come."