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Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for…

de Duncan Tonatiuh

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70412224,917 (4.48)1
"Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California"--
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This book is about when Sylvia Mendez and her family moved to the town of Westminster, California. She was very excited about enrolling in her new school. Although her and her brothers were told no and told they had to attend the Mexican school instead. She did not know why because she was a U.S citizens and spoke english perfectly. The Mendez family decided to take it upon themselves and file a lawsuit. This was seven years before Brown v. Board of Education. I think this is a great book to read in a history class when learning about the civil rights movement. It is a powerful story that shows the horrible truth of what happened in our history. ( )
  mjt041 | Oct 27, 2021 |
This informational text introduces young learners to the multi-layered, complex history of school desegregation, even prior to Brown v. BOE. Sylvia Mendez and her family’s story adds a much needed chapter to the narrative. Author’s Note, Primary Source Photos, Glossary, Bibliography.
  NCSS | Jul 23, 2021 |
When Sylvia Mendez and her family moved from Santa Ana, California to nearby Westminster in 1944, they discovered that the local educational authorities would not allow Sylvia and her brothers to attend the town's well-funded school, instead insisting that they go to the far inferior "Mexican School." After failing to convince the authorities that his children should attend the public school near where they lived, Sylvia's father, Gonzalo Mendez, began to organize a petition against segregation in the schools of Orange County. Eventually he enlisted the help of lawyer David Marcus, and the Mendez vs. Westminster case began. In 1947, seven years before Brown vs. the Board of Education struck down segregated schooling nationally, the California courts decided, in response to the Mendez case, to outlaw segregation in their state's schools...

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation provides an important addition to the body of works devoted to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, highlighting a legal case that provided the basis for the better known Brown vs. the Board of Education. I was not familiar with this story, and am very glad indeed to have that gap in my knowledge corrected. The story of Sylvia and her family is an inspiring one, and it highlights, not just the idea that standing up for justice can bring people of disparate backgrounds together - something emphasized in the story, through Sylvia's mother and her wise words - but also that every advance in freedom and equality is built upon the work of earlier people. It is unfortunate, but I think many, both children and adults, have an atomized view of history, often seeing certain developments in isolation, rather than as part of a rich tapestry of events. Author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh's book works to correct this myopic view, and it tells a story important in its own right as well - a story about standing up to racism and segregation. I appreciated both the story, which I found educational and moving, in equal measure; and the illustrations, done by Tonatiuh in his signature folk-art style, which owes so much to pre-Columbian Mesoamerican aesthetic traditions. The back matter, which includes an author's note, photographs on Sylvia Mendez and her family, a glossary, bibliography and index, provides additional information. Recommended to readers looking for children's books about the struggle to desegregate American schools. It could be paired very nicely with titles like The Story of Ruby Bridges, about one of the African-American children who desegregated the New Orleans schools in 1960. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 19, 2021 |
1. When you fight for what is right, others will follow you.
2. Quality
3. The reason why everyone can go to the same school regardless of your color. ( )
  hannahfontenot12 | Mar 5, 2021 |
"Alittle-known yet important story of the fight to end school discrimination against Mexican-American children is told with lively text and expressive art.

Most associate the fight for school integration with the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. However, seven years earlier, Mexican-American students in California saw an end to discrimination there. The little girl at the center of that case, Sylvia Mendez, was the daughter of parents who looked forward to sending her to the school near their newly leased farm. When her aunt attempted to register the family children, they were directed to the “Mexican school,” despite proficiency in English and citizenship. No one could explain to Mr. Mendez why his children were not allowed to attend the better-appointed school nearby. Despite the reluctance of many fellow Mexican-Americans to cause "problems," he filed a suit, receiving the support of numerous civil rights organizations. Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and folk-inspired art to add an important piece to the mosaic of U.S. civil rights history. The universality of parents’ desires for better opportunities for their children is made plain. The extensive author’s note provides context, and readers can connect with the real people in the story through photographs of Sylvia, her parents and the schools in question. Helpful backmatter includes a glossary, bibliography and index. Even the sourcing of dialogue is explained.

A compelling story told with impeccable care. (Informational picture book. 6-9)" A Starred Kirkus Review, www.kirkusreviews.com
  CDJLibrary | Feb 25, 2021 |
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"Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California"--

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