Today's @Google homepage features Felicitas Méndez, a civil rights activist from Puerto Rico who fought segregation in California after her children were refused enrollment at a public school because of their skin color.

Hers is a legacy worth honoring #HispanicHeritageMonth🇵🇷
@Google She was born in 1916 in the town of Juncos, Puerto Rico before migrating to Arizona shortly after.

Here, her family faced dire conditions as cotton pickers and eventually revolted-- only to be denied recognition and protection by the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
She first married a Mexican man who was deported back to Mexico-- she decided to stay in the US as she did not know the Mexican way of living, and her folks were there too.

Eventually she settled in California, where a long civil rights battle ensued.
She married Gonzalo Méndez, a Mexican man.

When their children were denied enrollment at a public school due to their Mexican heritage, they sued against Westminster school district.

Gonzalo joined with four other Mexican fathers and dedicated and entire year to the trial.
The court ruled unanimously in favor of Mendez, which led to the passage of Assembly Bill 1375 by the legislature of California.

This bill eliminated all segregation in California schools, including the segregation of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese children.
The case had a favorable impact on desegregation cases in the Southwest-- Texas (1948) and Arizona (1951) ended segregation shortly after.

Most importantly, the case set precedents that would later surface in the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
Earl Warren, the California governor who signed the law that ended segregation on the heels of Méndez, was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court when Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was heard, and he delivered the opinion.
This has been a collection of summary and excerpts from "Felícita "La Prieta" Méndez (1916-1998) and the end of Latino school segregation in California" (Centro Journal, vol. XIX, núm. 2, 2007; pp. 13-35)

The authors end the article with an analysis about "bordering" processes:
They argue these generate partial enfranchisement and have determined the bordering of America-- "a series of determinations about who belongs in the polity and with what level of rights."…
While Felícita's actions had major repercussions for the rights of citizens in the mainland, the authors highlight the fact that there is still much to be done for Puerto Ricans on the island-- they still cannot vote for President or elect members of Congress.
"Felícita herself experienced several forms of “bordering” in her own lifetime: as a colonial subject in the island of Puerto Rico, as a disenfranchised “black” in Arizona, and as a “Mexican” with partial rights in California, where her first husband was deported."
"Her own conclusion was that the struggle had to be for “all of our children, bronceados, negros y blancos.” Her memory can thus be honored in many ways and under different rubrics: as a Puerto Rican, as a Chicana, as a woman of color."
"Given her origins in Barrio Gurabo Abajo in Juncos, Puerto Rico, and her multiple subsequent experiences leading to a kind of universalist anti-racism, we feel she can also be honored with a term from Puerto Rican popular music of the 1970s: boricua del mundo entero."


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More from @KevinMc51

16 Sep
I would like to believe that Luis Gutierrez is well intentioned about people of Puerto Rico’s right to vote freely on status.

However, his criticism of the November plebiscite plays right into the strategy of the @ppdpr— whose guiding principle is to defend the colonial status.
As a bit of context, under Obama’s presidency, Congress appropriated $2.5M for Puerto Rico to hold a status plebiscite— the local legislature would enact the bill for the vote, but DOJ would have to approve for funds to be disbursed.
The Governor of Puerto Rico at the time, @agarciapadilla of the pro-territory @ppdpr, decided not to use the funds.

This is typical of that party, who hasn’t held a status vote since 1967.

In fact, @BillClinton also approved funds for a plebiscite back in 1999— @ppdpr ignored.
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