7 years before 'Brown' decision, the case that broke school segregation in California





Sylvia Mendez was honored Tuesday at the San Francisco federal courthouse where her elementary school -- one reserved for "Mexicans" -- was outlawed 60 years ago in a decision that led California to desegregate all its schools and public facilities.

Mendez's parents and four other Latino families in Orange County had sued four school districts, in Mendez vs. Westminster, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the decades-old federal doctrine of "separate but equal" violated the U.S. Constitution.

It was in their case that NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall tried out the winning arguments he was to make in Brown vs. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court, which outlawed segregation nationwide in its decision on the case in 1954...

The U.S. Postal Service plans to release a boldly colored stamp in September honoring the ruling's 60th anniversary.

The day in 1943 when 8-year-old Sylvia and her younger brothers were turned away from Westminster Elementary because of their dark skin and Spanish last name remains vivid to her.



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