Desegregation advocate to mark Hispanic Heritage Month

A woman who fought to desegregate California public schools when she was 9 years old will discuss the lawsuit that altered the course of her life next week during a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration hosted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and the Indiana State Bar Association’s Latino Affairs Committee.

The third annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration’s keynote speaker will be Sylvia Mendez, whose parents fought for her to receive an equal education through their filing of Mendez v. Westminster, which preceded Brown v. Board of Education and laid the foundation for national desegregation in education.

Mendez’s efforts to educate students on the importance of Mendez v. Westminster earned her the 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her “message of tolerance and opportunity to children of all backgrounds and all walks of life.” She will share her reflections on the case and its effects on her life during the event. Accompanying her will be Marion Superior Criminal Division 14 Judge Jose Salinas, who will provide a legal analysis of the case.

The free event begins at 2 p.m. Oct. 11 in the Sarah Evans Barker Courtroom of the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse. One hour of continuing legal education credit will be provided. Preregistration is required.

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