America’s Disturbing Past with School Segregation: 22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers

I’m happy to welcome Danielle of @hotmessteaching as a guest blogger today.
She is sharing some background on school segregation and a great book recommendation for you to use with your students to help them understand how the Mendez family fought for desegregation.
America has a problematic history and an incredibly shocking racist past. It’s easy to believe that the bigotry and hate we see today just developed out of nowhere.
Upon closer examination, we realize that hatred and discrimination have deep roots in this country.
In the 1940s and 1950s American society widely accepted the notion that Mexican-Americans were second class citizens. This idea was prevalent throughout American society at the time, and it was horribly displayed through school separation.

The Mendez family and many other families were negatively impacted by the racist ideas/racist policies that existed in Orange County, California.

Schools were segregated in Westminster, California when Mexican-Puerto Rican Sylvia Mendez and her family came to town from Santa Ana in the 1940s. When Mendez and her brothers were denied access to an all-white elementary school, her parents filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles against the school district, Mendez V. Westminster School District.

On February 18, 1946, Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of Mendez, making her one of the first Hispanics to attend an all-white school. Mendez’s case ended de jure segregation in California, setting a precedent for Brown vs. Board of Education seven years later, which brought an end to school segregation in the entire country.

Separate is never equal and the Mendez family proved this by fighting for their constitutional rights.

This historic narrative paints a picture of the resilience of Mexican-American citizens. It remind us of America’s racist past and the politics associated with dividing instead of uniting people together.

The tragedy in El Paso was carried out by a homegrown white supremacist terrorist. This young man was full of hate and anger. His actions have destroyed countless lives.

As educators, we must teach that all people are created equal. We must teach people to love others and how to love them well.

The book Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation is an excellent text to use with your students to help them understand what America’s history with school segregation looks like.

The Latin American and Iberian Institute of the University of New Mexico has created a free download for teachers and it’s excellent. This unit incorporates GLAD strategies and more to help students understand the context and implications of school segregation. Get the resource here.

Follow Danielle Donaldson on Instagram @hotmessteaching

This post is dedicated to María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe. She traveled from Chihuahua to  El Paso, Texas, only to pick up her teenage daughter, Natalia, at the airport because she was returning from a trip. She never had the opportunity to be reunited with her daughter.

To see the complete calendar of the 
22 Days of Anti-Racist Resources for Teachers, visit this Google Doc


Pin It


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *