Felicitas Mendez

Felicitas Mendez

Birth
Juncos, Juncos Municipality, Puerto Rico, USA
Death 12 Apr 1998 (aged 82)
Fullerton, Orange County, California, USA
Burial Whittier, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Garden of Love, lot 4021, space 3
Memorial ID 142233753 · View Source
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American Civil Rights Pioneer. Born Felicitas Gomez in Puerto Rico, when the Gomez family moved to Arizona, they faced, and were subject to, the discrimination which was then-rampant throughout the United States. Mendez and her siblings were racialized as "black". When she was 12 years old, the family moved to Southern California to work the fields - where they were racialized as "Mexican". In 1936, she married Gonzalo Mendez, an immigrant from Mexico who had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. They had three children and moved from Santa Ana to Westminster. In the early 1940s, they tried to enroll their children in the local all-white Westminster Elementary School, however school officials refused. On March 2, 1945, with the support of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mendezes filed a class action suit in federal court against segregated schools in Orange County. They argued that separate schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and appellate courts upheld his decision. The success of the Mendez v. Westminster case made California the first state in the nation to end segregation in school and paved the way for the better-known Brown v. Board of Education seven years later, which would bring an end to school segregation in the entire country. In 1998, the district of Santa Ana honored the family by naming a new school the 'Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School' and on September 9, 2009, a second school opened in the Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights bearing the name 'Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center'. On April 14, 2007, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a stamp commemorating the Mendez v. Westminster case.

Bio by: Louis du Mort


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Louis du Mort
  • Added: 5 Feb 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 142233753
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Felicitas Mendez (5 Feb 1916–12 Apr 1998), Find A Grave Memorial no. 142233753, citing Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .