Google celebrates the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States with a “doodle” dedicated to Felicitas Méndez, a Puerto Rican civil rights pioneer and businesswoman.
The image of Méndez, made by Emily Barrera, appears this Tuesday on all the main pages of the famous Google search engine.
“As a Latina living in the United States, I was delighted to have the opportunity to honor Felicitas. It was amazing to hear how she and her husband, Gonzalo Méndez, led an educational battle against segregated schools in California and how she paved the way for the American movement. of civil rights, “said the artist herself in a statement.
Felicitas Méndez helped spearhead and win, along with her husband Gonzalo, the Méndez v. Westminster, which in 1946 resulted in the first U.S. federal court ruling against public school segregation, nearly a decade before Brown v. Board of Education.
She was born in 1916 in Juncos, Puerto Rico, and as a preteen, she moved with her parents to the southwestern United States to join a community of farmworkers in Orange County, California.
In 1935 she married Gonzalo Méndez, a Mexican immigrant, and together they opened a cafe in the neighborhood and later ran a successful farm in the small town of Westminster.
Every year this special celebration is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. We tell you how it came about and why that day was chosen.
Her fight for civil rights originated in 1944 when her three children were denied enrollment in a local public school because of their ethnicity and skin color. Not wanting to accept this injustice, the couple decided to fight the decision.
With Méndez v. Westminster, Gonzalo Méndez and four other parents sued the Westminster school district and several others to demand an end to the segregation of Hispanic students.
On February 18, 1946, the federal district court found that the school districts violated the right of Mexican American citizens to equal protection before the law and ruled in favor of the Méndez family and the other parents.
More than half of the Hispanic population would rather stay home than go to the hospital in an emergency, according to a recent study.
Affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the following year, this landmark decision directly paved the way for a law calling for the integration of all California public schools that same year, as well as the decision in Brown v. Board of Education by the Supreme Court seven years later, which declared the segregation of public schools unconstitutional.
In 2011, Méndez’s daughter Sylvia was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of her role and that of her parents in Westminster v. Mendez.