REMEMBERING: Mendez v. Westminster

On April 14, 1947, nearly seven years before the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case which held that separating children in public schools on the basis of race was unconstitutional, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit abolished the segregation of Mexican American students in schools in the State of California in Mendez v. Westminster.

The historical context of Mendez is one in which Mexican-American students, who were considered “white” by the census data of the time, were being segregated into “Mexican schools” specifically designated for students who were of darker complexion, had Mexican sounding names, and/or spoke Spanish. At the time, California did not have specific laws that allowed segregating Mexican students, but there were state statutes that allowed for the segregation of Asian and Native-American students.

In this month’s Affinity newsletter, Ashley DeMouy covers how Mendez v. Westminster chiseled away at Plessy v. Fergusson, which found that segregation on the basis of race was constitutional, and laid the Foundation for Brown.

Read REMEMBERING: Mendez v. Westminster >


MBLB strives to be a diverse law firm. Our goal is to create and maintain an environment that welcomes and fosters mutual respect for different perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences regardless of gender, race, creed, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability. We are committed to ensuring that professional growth and advancement are based on capability and performance and recognize that a diverse workforce enriches our experiences and lends to our success. We value and support all who positively contribute to our practice and our community.

MBLB’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee members include Members Alan Brackett, Mike Parks, and Simone Yoder, Associate Tyler Loga and Human Resources Director, Linda Castanza.

Among the initiatives the DE&I Committee has launched is the Affinity newsletter, which allows diverse voices and points of view to be shared, both within our firm and externally. The newsletter is intended to educate, particularly on historical diversity issues and their impact on or by the law. While these articles provide valuable perspective, they are not intended to espouse a position by the firm.

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