2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient - Sylvia Mendez
February 16, 2011
| Public Domain
Sylvia Mendez is a civil rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, who is famous for the integral role she played in Mendez v. Westminster. As an eight year old, her parents attempted to enroll Ms. Mendez in the Westminster school. She was denied entry in the “whites” only school and was told to go to the school for Mexican children. On February 18, 1946, Judge Paul McCormick ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and a year later the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court ruling. The Mendez case effectively ended segregation as a matter of law in California. Justice Marshall, who represented the NAACP as amicus in the appellate case, used many of the same arguments years later in Brown v. Board of Education. She currently travels around the country giving speeches on the value of a good education. Here, Sylvia Mendez, discusses her life, the landmark case and her love for talking to and helping students.