for Todos Iguales by Christy Hale
The empowering true story of the 1931 Lemon Grove Incident, in which Mexican families in southern California won the first Mexican American school desegregation case in US history.
Twelve-year-old Roberto Álvarez loved school. He, his siblings, and neighbors attended the Lemon Grove School along with the Anglo children from nearby homes. The children studied and played together as equals.
In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a language handicap and needed to be Americanized. When the Mexican families learned of this plan, they refused to let their children enter the small, inferior school that had been erected. They formed neighborhood committee and sought legal help. Roberto, an excellent student who spoke English well, became the plaintiff in a suit filed by the Mexican families. On March 12, 1931, the case of Roberto Álvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was decided. The judge ruled in favor of the children's right to equal education, ordering that Roberto and all the other Mexican American students be immediately reinstated in the Lemon Grove School.
The Lemon Grove Incident stands a major victory in the battle against school segregation, and a testament to the tenacity of an immigrant community and its fight for educational equality.