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Revisiting Mendez V. Westminster: Desegregation For Latinx Americans On Monday's Access Utah

USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences

From Wikipedia: “Sylvia Mendez (born June 7, 1936) is an American civil rights activist of Mexican-Puerto Rican heritage. At age eight, she played an instrumental role in the Mendez v. Westminster case, the landmark desegregation case of 1946. The case successfully ended de jure segregation in California[1] and paved the way for integration and the American civil rights movement.[2]

Mendez grew up during a time when most southern and southwestern schools were segregated. In the case of California, Hispanics were not allowed to attend schools that were designated for "Whites" only and were sent to the so-called "Mexican schools." Mendez was denied enrollment to a "Whites" only school, an event which prompted her parents to take action and together organized various sectors of the Hispanic community who filed a lawsuit in the local federal court. The success of their action, of which Sylvia was the principal catalyst, would eventually bring to an end the era of segregated education.[3] She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, on February 15, 2011.”

Crescencio López-González is an Associate Professor of Latinx Studies at Utah State University. As a cultural studies analyst of U.S. Latinx urban literature and culture, his research focuses on analyzing the works of Latinx authors who write about the city in which they were raised and how growing-up in these environments shaped their lives, their communities, and their future.  The main purpose of his research is to analyze the Latino cultural production in order to understand how Latino individuals, families, and communities are changing over time, how they are transforming the cultural landscape of the U.S, and how they are interacting with other populations. He uses an interdisciplinary approach drawing from sociology, cultural studies, cultural geography, and urban studies.  Having received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis and his doctorate from the University of Arizona, two land-grant universities, he firmly believes in the land-grant mission of bringing research-based knowledge to undergraduate students. Outside the classroom, he is involved with the Latinx Creative Society, the USU Latino Club, and the Logan Library Advisory Council.

Marisela Martinez-Cola is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Utah State University. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Psychology and African American Studies. She went on to earn her law degree from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. While she loved the study of law, the practice it left her feeling flat. After one year she transitioned to a career in higher education administration as a Director of Multicultural Affairs at various institutions around the country including Davenport University, The George Washington University, The University of Georgia, and Agnes Scott College. After nine years of serving students in an administrative capacity, she decided to fulfill her lifelong desire to pursue a PhD. She applied and was accepted to Emory University where her research focuses on a comparative historical case study of the construction of race, class, and gender in Mexican American, Chinese American, and Native American school desegregation cases that came before Brown v. Board of Education. The title of her dissertation is "The Bricks Before Brown v. Board of Education." She has had the honor of teaching amazing students at Emory University, Oglethorpe University, and serving as a Mellon Fellow at Morehouse College.

Marisela Martinez-Cola is author of the book (under review): 

The Bricks Before Brown v. Board: A Comparative Historical Case Study of Race, Class, and Gender across a Chinese American, Native American, and Mexican American School Desegregation Cases, 1885-1947. 

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.