During this Hispanic Heritage Month we honor Sylvia Mendez who helped change life for Mexican children in California when legal action ended segregation.
Sylvia was the daughter of Gonzalo Mendez,a Mexican immigrant and Felicitas Mendez, a Puerto Rican immigrant. Like most parents, they wanted Sylvia and her two brothers to get a good education but they were not allowed to enroll into a “white” school.
Sylvia’s parents and other parents filed a class action lawsuit in 1945 on behalf of more than 5,000 children who attended segregated schools. They won the lawsuit.
In February 2011, President Obama awarded Sylvia Mendez the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Today Sylvia Mendez continues to share her story in schools across the country.
History on Sylvia Mendez
During this Hispanic Heritage Month we honor Dr. Antonia Pantoja. One of her favorite saying was “We make the future, I make the future.” The Puerto Rican New Yorker committed her life to helping Latino high school students get an education and move forward in life.
More about Dr. Pantoja:
1922 – Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico
1942 – Graduated from the University of Puerto Rico
1944 – Arrived in New York City
1952 – Graduated with Masters of Social Work
1958 – joined a group of young professionals creating the Puerto Rican Forum, Inc.
1961 – Founded ASPIRA
1970 – established the Universidad Boricua and the Puerto Rican Research and Resource Center
1972 – Fought for bilingual education in New York City
1997 – President Clinton awarded Dr. Pantoja the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She became the first Latina to receive the highest honor the nation bestows on a civilian.
ASPIRA: Our founder
National Association of Social Workers