Welcome to the team
For the Children of California
While Orange County is not widely recognized as a seat of the civil rights movement, all Americans are indebted to the actions of five families who challenged segregation in local schools by suing to end educational segregation in Orange County.
Eight years before the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education case, Mendez, et al v. Westminster, had a revolutionary impact on Orange County and the State of California. California was the first state in the nation to desegregate schools at the school district level.
This case was initiated by Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez when they moved to the city of Westminster and found that their children Sylvia, Gonzalo, Jr., and Jerome, were denied at the Westminster Public School based on race. It ultimately paved the way for children of every race to attend California public schools by desegregating all California school districts. Mendez and four Orange County Mexican-American families - Guzman, Palomino, Estrada, and Ramirez - challenged segregation in Orange County public schools and won for all the children of California in 1946.
It is time to honor this groundbreaking court ruling and historic event that happened right here in Orange County!
The Mendez Freedom Trail and Monument on the corner of Westminster and Olive Street will be a celebration of this momentous achievement for all to enjoy. The Monument and surrounding landscaped park area will serve as a gathering place for all ages and backgrounds. It will remind visitors the future is what they make it, and help them reflect on just how far we’ve come. A series of educational stations created by the Orange County Department of Education will tell the story at the Monument site and along the bikeway and pedestrian walkway. This monument and trail is designed especially for student field trips as they study this important local history. The Mendez Freedom Trail and Monument will include a bikeway and pedestrian walkway that will run for 2.5 miles along Hoover Street.
We are raising funds for the Book, School Children and Mendez Tribute Monuments as Public and State funds cannot be used for these tribute monuments. The need for these 4 monuments is $200,000 and $50,000 has already been raised, leaving $150,000 to complete the monuments. Please JOIN us to commemorate this Landmark ruling that included Children of all races in California Schools since 1947! How different our Southern California culture would be without this diversity in our public education system for over 70 years!
EVERY GIFT COUNTS AND MAKES A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE! We want this to be a ALL COMMUNITY effort so any gift of $20, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or more will help make this monument a reality and capture this history for all to enjoy!
Thank you for your consideration in giving this landmark case in California’s history a permanent tribute site for future generations. We will post updates as the project gets funded and the construction begins!
TRIBUTE MONUMENT TEAM
Dr. Jeff Hittenberger, Chief Academic Officer, Orange County Department of Education
Sylvia Mendez, Retired Registered Nurse, Recipient of US Presidential Medal of Freedom and noted speaker
Sergio Contreras, City Councilman, City of Westminster
Ret. Judge Frederick Aguirre, Orange County Superior Court
Janice Munemitsu, Consultant
Sanjay Chhabria, Entrepreneur, Sunrise Group, Inc.
Neeta Sadhwani, Entrepreneur, Sunrise Group, Inc.
Jasmine Chhabria, 2018 National History Day Finalist, “Mendez v. Westminster: Conflict and Compromise in Segregated Education. Student, Northwood High School, Irvine, CA
Michael Le, Orange County Regional Director, Emilio Nares Foundation and Director, The Portal Consulting
If you would like more information regarding the project, please visit: https://www.mendeztribute.com
- Family Chavez
- Dr. Nicole Chavez
- Jeff Hittenberger
- Catherine Murphy
- Ean Murphy
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