Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

by Duncan Tonatiuh

In 1944, Sylvia Mendez’s Mexican American family had recently moved. She and... read more

In 1944, Sylvia Mendez’s Mexican American family had recently moved. She and her siblings were not allowed to go to the public school nearest their farm and were instead told they had to attend the Mexican school, which was farther away and had fewer resources. Sylvia’s father found other families willing to join him in suing the school district, whose only explanation had been, “That is how it is done.” During the trial, Sylvia and her family sat through infuriating testimony in which school district officials blatantly claimed that Mexican children were inferior to white children — in their personal habits, their social abilities, and their intelligence. Author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh quotes from the trial as part of this narrative that is grounded in both facts and the emotional experience of young Sylvia. The ample end matter includes a lengthy author’s note with additional information and photographs of Sylvia then and now. A glossary, bibliography, and index round out this distinctively illustrated picture book account of the events surrounding the court case that desegregated California schools seven years before Brown v. Board of Education . (Ages 6–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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