Summary of 2005 Hispanic Heritage Activities
at the National Archives 

"Hispanics and the Formation of the American People"
posted by

Hispanics, Education, & Civil Rights
May 12
General Bernardo de Galvez & Parade
Jul 3-4
Sept  24
Hispanics in the Military:
Artist view
Oct 12
GI Forum Veterans  visit NARA
Nov 11-13
in Federal Employment
Dec 14

Artist: Eddie Martinez

In 2004, Sam Anthony, Producer of Program Events at the National Archives, hosted two events on Hispanic heritage.  The first event in May recognized the military contributions of Latinos during the dedication of the World War II Memorial.  In October, a 2-day Hispanic Family Conference was held, "Hispanics in the Formation of the American People."  I helped in the 2004 effort and  greeted with enthusiasm Sam's request to assist him in planning a series of six-eight Hispanic heritage events at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. for 2005. 

Sam's goals for the 2005 series were to reach out to the Hispanic community in Washington, D.C., the youth of the nation, and to increase the use of the resources available in the National Archives.

For many children of immigrant parents, now second and third generation Americans, the quest for their family research will be found in the records of the United States Archives.   For those of Hispanic roots and residency in the United States back to the Civil War, they too will find family information in the National Archives.  The mission of the committee was to encourage Hispanic/Latino use of the National Archives as a resource for Hispanic heritage research.  For many children of immigrant parents, now second and third generation Americans, the quest for their family research will be found in the records of the United States Archives.   For those of Hispanic roots and residency in the United States back to the Civil War, they too will find family information in the National Archives. . . .   Mimi Lozano

Here is an email received concerning the Hispanic Heritage conference held in 2004.

"Dear Mimi,

My name is Nadine Kammer and we met at the Hispanic Conf. at the National Archives in Oct. 2004. Learning how to use the tools available for research is vital for success.

I want to give you a follow-up on how the Conference encouraged and inspired me to move on a course of action, from obtaining records in SF to the completion of a special project honoring one of my ancestors.

Since we met I have completed an application to the DAR. I don't speak or read Spanish, but I think I have the information needed. My ancestor Manuel Mares is the one eligible having been in the Presidio at the time. Since we are taught a customary version of history, this is a welcoming insight of the Spanish contributions to America.

In May I took a trip to NM following the path of my family from Santa Fe, Las Vegas and on to Colorado, where I still have and Uncle and cousins. My husband came with me and he also loved our adventure. Of course we rented a car and left our horse and wagon behind.

At the Archives in Santa Fe, I found so much information, from wills and land grants to military records, etc. The staff were very helpful and I hope to continue my research with more trips in the future. 

How wonderful that you and the NMGS and HGRC and others are available to aid all of us in our search, so we can preserve our history and pass down the rich heritage we carry. Thank-You

Born in Pa. my brothers, sister and I, were felt to be embarrassed of our mother's Spanish heritage and always claimed our father's Russian and Irish background, as this was well received.

Again Thank-you, Nadine" 


Hispanics in the Formation of the American People

"The ties that bind us as a people in one indissoluble union are perpetuated
in the archives of our government."
John Russell Pope, architect for the Archives building.

On October 1-2, 2004,
the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
held its first ever conference on Hispanic heritage, 
70 years after it was founded.

On June 20, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Archives Act creating the National Archives as an independent agency. The building to house these records was completed in 1935. This is not to suggest that records were not archived prior to this action. In fact, documents and records go back to the early 1600s when the first census was taken in Virginia. However, information was preserved under the agency that created it.

In 1790, following United States independence a census of the entire nation was taken. U.S. marshals on horseback counted 3.9 million inhabitants. The government grew during the Civil War and the number of federal records surged. Plans for creating a 'hall of records" was sent to Congress by the American Historical Association in 1898, but no funds were appropriated. Finally in 1926, $1,000.000 was approved for the building of a national archives.

Most Hispanics/Latinos assume that little family information can be found in the National Archives on their history. When in fact, in addition to the census records, there are many records, which could include our families. Hispanics have been an integral participant in the development of the United States. Military records going back to the American Revolution and Civil War can give proof to that truth. Unfortunately, the indexing and gathering of those documents have not been done in an evidential manner, supportive of historic Hispanic involvement.

Sephardics (Spanish Jews) on the East Coast played a major role in the American Revolution, as did the Spanish speaking citizens and military of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and the entire Southwest. Under Spanish authority and the leadership of Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez, monies and resources were collected from through Nueva Espana in support of the American Revolution.

Dr. Granville Hough, a retired West Point Military officer has written a series of eight books, identifying by the following states battles which took place between 1779-1783 and the soldiers stationed in those locations: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. In addition, those serving in the West Indies and those serving south of the U.S. border.

If Hispanic family ancestry goes back 250 years in the Americas, the likelihood that an ancestor was involved in the fight for U.S. independence is very high. Spain was at war with England between 1779-1783 and its citizens. All Spanish citizens were supportive of the effort to remove English control.

The Civil War is another area in which there is documented proof of Hispanic involvement in the historical foundation of the United States. Hispanics served in both the Union and Confederate armies. Those records are easily accessible, but they have not been indexed with a view to manifest the Hispanic involvement.

Presenters at the October conference identified a great variety of (non-military) record groups that contain evidence of Hispanics in the United States. Most examples given covered the time periods of 1910-1930, such as immigration, naturalization, passport and visa applications. Hispanics are viewed as non-citizens.

The Hispanic American experience is documented throughout the records of the Federal Government. However records relating to Hispanic Americans usually are not found as a separate series, but interspersed among the records. I believe that every effort should be made to prove the Hispanic historical presence with the documents housed in the National Archives. Proof of our integral and important contributions to the very foundation of the United States will change the perceptions of what a Hispanic is. It will increase understanding, giving our youth a sense of ownership and pride. It will prove that the history of Hispanics in the Americas is interwoven with the history of the United States, not as immigrants, but as patriots.

John W. Carlin, Archivist of the United States has written, "NARA is not an ordinary agency. We serve not just today's citizens, but all who are yet to come."

It is for the youth and leaders of tomorrow that my efforts as editor of and president of the Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research are dedicated. Our past does matter. Ignoring the Hispanic/Latino historical presence is part of the social confusion.

I am proud to be a Tejana with family lines among the founders of San Antonio in 1731, and also family lines throughout the pueblos of Mexico, with both indigenous grandparents and European grandparents.  I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to share my respect for our ancestors. I want the nation to respect our ancestors. They are deserving, but only a collective effort will reveal that truth.

Seek out your ancestors. You will come to the same conclusion. They are deserving of your respect. 

Mimi Lozano
Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research
P.O. Box 490, Midway City, CA  92655-0490


Events facilitated by the committee: 

May 12th:
"Hispanics, Education, and Civil Rights."  Panel headed by  Judge Fredrick Aguirre.  The focus of the panel was the contributions made by Hispanic leadership in desegregation of schools, prior to the well-known Brown vs. Board of Education. Link for press release and the text of the argument by Judge Aguirre.
For more information:

July 3-4:  Re-enactor Hector Diaz gave a presentation as Spanish colonial General Bernardo de Galvez.
The Texas Connection to the American Revolution from San Antonio participated in the parade. Sylvia Carvajal Sutton was the liaison.

Participation in the July 4th weekend activities was all that we hoped that it would be.  For the first time a specific group representing the Spanish involvement in the American Revolution was part of the festivities, both inside and outside.

Members of the Texas Connection to the American Revolution marched in period dress in the July 4th parade. Those who participated were: Jack and Sue Cowan, their grandchildren, Samantha, Scott, and Maribeth, Sylvia Carvajal Sutton, Hector Diaz, RoseMarie and Richard LaPenta, Mimi Lozano, and Corrine Staacke. 

While the group marched, they also distributed approximately 1000 cards with information concerning the Texas Connection to the American Revolution.  Many parade watchers clapped and cheered when they saw the Spanish flag being carried at the front of the group.  Sylvia and Mimi spoke to the crowds in Spanish as they distributed the cards, which brought smiles and nods of approval.   

Hector Diaz, as Bernardo de Galvez  made a presentation on both July 3rd and July 4th. Several NARA staff  commented on how unknown the history of the Spanish participation in the American Revolution was to them.  They were quite pleased. For more information:

September 24th: Hispanic Family History Conference was held at NARA.  George Ryskamp, Director of the Center for Family History and Genealogy at BYU was our liaison with NARA staff  Nancy Fortna, training officer and Diane Dimkoff, division director. 
For more information:

October 12th :
"Hispanics in the Military: An Artist's Interpretation" a power point presentation by artist Eddie Martinez was a beautiful visual historical overview of the contributions of Hispanics to the U.S. military.

November 11-13th: Arrangements were made for special self-guided tours of NARA for Hispanic veterans attending the National GI Forum. Debbie Salazar, Chairwoman for the National GI Forum was the liaison.

Tickets for Self-Guided Tours for Hispanic Veterans attending the National GI Forum Conference November 11-13 were printed. Veterans and their families were able to enter through the Special Event entrance on Constitution Ave, and tour at their leisure. The GI Forum estimates that about 750 Hispanic veterans would take the opportunity to tour the Archives during their visit to Washington, D.C..  

December 14th:  "Hispanic Americans in the Federal Government" Dr. JV Martinez, Senior Advisor with the Department of Energy is our liaison, put together a panel consisting of  Emma Moreno, Gil Sandate, Sylvia Trujillo and himself. Martinez McGowan Theater .  For more information, go to:  and 

National Archives Unveils Monthly Series to Display Latino Contributions to U.S.
by Edwin Reyes

Hispanic Link Weekly Report,  
May 2, 2005, pg. 3

The National archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. will inaugurate a landmark series of monthly events this spring to detail the Hispanic contribution to this country.

The programs will cover the Hispanic experience in areas ranging from political empowerment to contributions in science to military heroism.

The first, on the community's fight for equal education, will be held May 12 at the Archives headquarters near the white House.  Its panel of speakers, moderated by California Superior Count Judge Fredrick Aguirre, will include former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, University of Texas-Austin law professor Norma Cantu and retired U.S. District Court Judge James DeAnda, lead counsel in several landmark education cases in Texas.


Cantu served as Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights for eight years under President Clinton.

The events break new ground for NARA.

Mimi Lozano, president of the Society of Hispanic Historical and Research in Midway City, Calif. is credited with pressing the Archives and other federal agencies to acknowledge publicly the significant contributions of Hispanics nationwide.

"There are too many such stories long ignored, but there's still time to add them to the nation's historical record for future generation to integrate our historical contributions into the history and development of the U.S. We have been viewed as separate and apart, when in fact we provided a foundation.  these events will reveal that truth of our continual presence and support" she told Weekly Report.

Maria Stanwich to Charles Erickson, Hispanic Links Weekly Report.
Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 08:41:58 -0400
From: "Maria Stanwich"  

Hi Charles,
It was a pleasure meeting you last week. I hope you enjoyed the program. I think it was a great success. As promised, here is a schedule of upcoming events. The December program still needs a date. We are working on it.    Thanks, Maria

Press Release for May 12th Event

On Thursday, May 12, 2005 the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC will host a nationally recognized panel of experts who will present "Hispanics and the Civil Rights Movement (Education)".
[Title was changed to
Hispanics, Education, & Civil Rights.]

Moderated by California Superior Court Judge Frederick P. Aguirre, who will present his article on the 1945 California desegregation case: "Mendez v Westminster School District: How it influenced Brown v Board of Education", the distinguished panel includes: U.S. District Court Judge (Retired) James DeAnda, co-counsel in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case of Hernandez v State of Texas and lead counsel in several landmark cases regarding public education in Texas; California Supreme Court Justice (Retired) Cruz Reynoso, former Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and presently a Professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law; and Professor Norma V. Cantu of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law who was the former Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights for eight years and former regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The panelists will discuss the quest by Hispanics to receive equal access to and equal treatment in our public schools. Most Americans are intimately aware of the efforts by African Americans to desegregate our public schools. But the general public does not know that most Mexican Americans and other Hispanics were forced to attend segregated public schools in the first half of the 20th century and were systematically denied equal access to publicly funded educational services.

The panel discussion, the first in a series of monthly events at NARA focusing on "Hispanics and the Formation of the American People", will be held at 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm in NARA's William G. McGowan Theatre, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

For more information and reservations contact Sam Anthony, Producer of  Programs
(202) 208-7345,

April 14, 2004

Mendez v Westminster School District:

How it affected

Brown v Board of Education

Article by: 
The Honorable Frederick P. Aguirre
Superior Court Judge of California, Orange County, California

This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education (1954), undoubtedly the most important civil rights case of the last century. Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for a unanimous United States Supreme Court, fervently stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal", eventually ordering that all public schools of our nation integrate their classrooms "with all deliberate speed." Over the last half century, Brown’s sound logic has been extended to housing, employment, voting rights, transportation, public accommodations, parks and recreations, and it initiated a torrent of court decisions and legislation which expanded and protected individual liberties not only for persons of color, but moreover for women, gays and lesbians, the elderly and our disabled.

Few people know, however, that the Orange County case of Mendez v Westminster School District, (1946) and its appellate case of Westminster v Mendez, (1947) provided a key link in the evolutionary chain of school desegregation cases culminating in Brown v Board of Education. The judges found that the Westminster, Santa Ana, Garden Grove and El Modena (Orange) School Districts systematically and intentionally segregated Mexican American children into separate schools solely because of their surname and/or the color of their skin. Therefore the courts ordered the cessation of that unconstitutional conduct. Mendez was the first federal court case to hold that separate schools for children of color were not equal; therefore, such conduct violated their constitutional rights. Although, Mendez is not cited in Brown, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a friend-of-the court brief in Mendez and used Mendez as a test case to attempt to topple the "separate but equal" doctrine in public education. Moreover, I know about Mendez because it affected me personally. Were it not for the lawsuit I would have attended the same segregated "Mexican" school in Placentia, California that my father, uncles and aunts and cousins had to attend. So on this 50th anniversary of Brown, I offer this account of the Mendez case and how it affected Brown v Board of Education, my community and me.




During the Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1920), thousands of Mexicans fled the turmoil in Mexico and entered the United States. At that time, prior to the enactment of the 1924 Immigration Act, no laws prohibited Mexican citizens from entering the United States. Indeed, since 1542 when Cabrillo first explored California, Mexicans had been settling primarily in the Southwest. As a result of the heavier migration in the early 1920's, Southwest public school officials began dealing with the "Mexican problem" by forcing those children to be educated in separate facilities.

My grandparents came from Mexico and settled in Placentia in 1918. At that time, one grammar school, Bradford Avenue Elementary, served the small city of approximately 800 residents and the neighboring ranches. My uncle and aunt attended Bradford until 1922 when the school board decided to use scarce public funds to construct another grammar school, Baker Street School, a mere five blocks from Bradford. All Mexican American children, including my father, uncles, aunts, cousins, who are all American born, were ordered to attend Baker Street School and all "white" children were instructed to attend Bradford. "White" families like the Hapners, Carltons, Franklins, Steens, Edwardsons and others lived within two blocks of Baker, but were directed to Bradford, which was a superior school in terms of facilities and teachers. There were no "white" children in Baker. They were all Mexican American. Even the school bus which would pick up "white" and Mexican American children from Santa Ana Canyon and the Richfield area would dutifully leave the "white" children at Bradford and the Mexican American children at Baker. Then during World War II, in order to keep Mexican American students from attending Valencia High School, all 9th and 10th grade Mexican American children were directed to La Jolla Junior High School. In that manner, those students effectively were discouraged from graduating from high school. My uncles and aunts were forced to board the bus for the one mile trip to La Jolla, instead of being allowed to walk five blocks to Valencia High School.

In 1934, Mexican American children made up one-fourth of the total student population in Orange County. A study found that 70 percent of the Mexican American children attended "Mexican" segregated elementary schools." Similarly, in Texas, Arizona, and all across the Southwest, "Mexican" children were forced to attend segregated public schools.


In 1945, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez moved their family from Santa Ana to Westminster, California. They had just leased a 40 acre parcel from a Japanese American family who was going to lose the land because they had been interned in a "relocation" camp.

Busy tilling the fields, Mendez asked his sister Soledad Vidaurri to enroll his three children in the nearby 17th Street School when she went to enroll her two children. The school authorities told Mrs. Vidaurri that her two children (who were fair-skinned and whose last name didn’t sound "Mexican") could be enrolled, but that the Mendez children (who were dark-skinned and had a very Mexican sounding last name) would have to go to the "Mexican" school a few blocks away.

Ironically, Mendez, who was born in Mexico, but had resided in California since he was six-years old, had attended integrated public schools in the early 1920's. He had become a U.S. citizen. His wife, Felicitas, was born in Puerto Rico, therefore she was also an American citizen. Their three children were all born in the United States and were fluent in English.

Outraged that his children were rejected, Mendez consulted with David C. Marcus, a Los Angeles attorney. Mendez had heard about Marcus who had recently won a civil rights case for Mexican Americans, Lopez v Seccombe (1944).

In Lopez, American citizens of Mexican or Latin descent were not allowed to use the public swimming pools maintained by the City of San Bernardino, California. The plaintiff was Ignacio Lopez, a graduate of USC and a World War II veteran. W.C. Seccombe was the Mayor of the city of San Bernardino. Federal Court Judge Yankwich ruled that under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: "That petitioners are entitled to...equal rights and treatment with other persons as citizens of the United States in the use and enjoyment of the facilities of said park and playground." The permanent injunction issued by Judge Yankwich prohibited the city of San Bernardino from restricting the use of the public swimming pools and thereby opened the pools’ usage to all persons.

Marcus advised Mendez that California did not have a state law that required separate schools for Mexican American children. The State did not even require separate schools for Negro (African American) children. At that time, the only groups of children who could be legally segregated by State law were Indians (Native Americans) and Japanese, Chinese, or Mongolian. Education Code section 8003 read:

Schools for Indian children, and children of Chinese, Japanese, or Mongolian parentage: Establishment. The governing board of any school district may establish separate schools for Indian children, excepting children of Indians who are wards of the United States Government and children of all other Indians who are descendants of the original American Indians of the United States, and for children of Chinese, Japanese, or Mongolian parentage.

Sec. 8004 stated:

Same: Admission of children into other schools. When separate schools are established for Indian children or children of Chinese, Japanese or Mongolian parentage, the Indian children or children of Chinese, Japanese, or Mongolian parentage shall not be admitted into any other school.

Marcus counseled Mendez that the case would be more persuasive if he could prove that other school districts in Orange County besides Westminster maintained separate public schools for Mexican American children. The Lorenzo Ramirez family from El Modena (Orange), the Frank Palomino family from Garden Grove and the William Guzman and Thomas Estrada families from Santa Ana all quickly joined Mendez.

On March 2, 1945, Marcus filed the lawsuit in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, California, on behalf of the afore-mentioned families against the four school districts. The lawsuit, a class suit based on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the "equal protection of the laws" demanded that the school districts be enjoined from maintaining public schools for Mexican American children. Amicus briefs were filed by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and the National Lawyers Guild.

On July 5, 1945 the two week trial commenced before Federal Court Judge Paul J. Mc Cormick. A jury was not selected because an injunction was demanded, therefore, the judge rules on all matters of fact and law.

At the hearing, petitioner’s attorney, David C. Marcus, presented evidence of the segregation policies through the testimony of local community members who had attended the schools, to show the extreme nature of the segregation. Others testified as to specific instances of transfer denials for Mexican children and inferior facilities provided for them. Some of those who testified at the hearing were children, who told accounts of the segregation and how it made them feel.

Among the 25 witnesses for the petitioners was nine year-old Sylvia Mendez, the daughter of Gonzalo and Felicitas, who testified in perfect English that she was ready to go to the 17th Street School, her neighborhood school.

Marcus retained, as an expert witness, Dr. Ralph Deals, head of UCLA’s Anthropology department, who testified that separating Mexican American children from "white" children would stamp the Mexican American children with a badge of inferiority and the "white" children with a badge of superiority; that such practice would lead to unproductive Mexican American citizens. He also testified that Nazi Germany had recently labeled as "inferior", people such as Jews and Gypsies, but that America should not follow such attitudes and practices.

During the trial, Garden Grove School District Superintendent James L. Kent testified that he considered Mexican American children "inferior." Court records show that Kent’s testimony included opinions that Mexicans are inferior in personal hygiene, ability and in their economic outlook; which prompted Marcus to compare him to Hitler. Kent also testified that "he would never allow a Latino child to attend an all-white school even if that child met all the qualifications to attend such a school."

Santa Ana School District Superintendent Frank A. Henderson testified "that students were assigned to the city’s then 14 elementary schools solely on the basis of their last names. Exceptions were sometimes made by the four districts for Latino children who "looked" white or had European names."

The school district’s main legal argument was that the Federal Court lacked jurisdiction because local school board actions did not constitute state action.

On February 18, 1946, Judge McCormick ordered the injunction against the four school districts restraining them from segregating children of Mexican or Latin descent in separate public elementary schools. He declared that:

"The equal protection of the laws pertaining to the public school system in California is not provided by furnishing in separate schools the same technical facilities, text books and courses of instruction to children of Mexican ancestry that are available to the other public school children regardless of their ancestry. A paramount requisite in the American system of public education is social equality. It must be open to all children by unified school association regardless of lineage."

Judge Mc Cormick further found that "commingling of the entire student body instills and develops a common cultural attitude among the school children which is imperative for the perpetuation of American institutions and ideals."

Finally, he held that "It is also established by the record that the methods of segregation prevalent in the defendant school districts foster antagonisms in the children and suggest inferiority among them where none exists."

The school districts defiantly filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California. Amicus briefs, on behalf of the Mendez family and the other plaintiffs, were filed by the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, Japanese American Citizens League, American Jewish Congress, NAACP and the Attorney General of California.

The NAACP brief was authored by Thurgood Marshall (later United States Supreme Court Justice), Robert L. Carter and Loren Miller. Robert L. Carter, now a retired New York State Supreme Court Judge, stated that the Mendez case was a "test case" for the NAACP in its attempt to over-turn Plessy v Ferguson, the case that set the precedent for "separate but equal" facilities for "white" and "colored" races. According to Judge Carter, the brief was very similar in content to the first brief which the NAACP filed in Brown in 1952.

The Attorney General of California, Robert W. Kenny, argued that not only should the trial court’s decision be upheld but that the same reasoning should apply to California’s Education Code Sections 8003 and 8004 as they also violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Attorney General’s brief concluded:

We in California like to think of our people as enlightened and free from prejudice. We are undoubtedly remarkably free from strife caused by prejudices of race, color or creed. As in the case of any large territory, local spots of difficulty occur from time to time. From the state-wide viewpoint, however, we are convinced that the great majority of Californians want no part of race discrimination or segregation. The Attorney General is convinced that segregation of pupils on account of race is not the policy of the State and that as pertains to the issues of the case the decision of the Honorable Paul J. McCormick and the position of the appellees should be sustained.

The school district’s main argument was that the Federal Court lacked jurisdiction because local school board actions did not constitute state action.

On April 14, 1947 Justice Albert Lee Stephens, writing for a unanimous (7-0) Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld the trial court’s decision. But Justice Stephens narrowly construed the decision on the grounds that the segregation constituted unequal application of the law. The appellate court found that as no California law required or permitted the school districts to segregate "Mexican" school children, that such segregation violated the plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to the "equal protection" of the laws. The appellate court refused to confront Plessy v Ferguson by stating: "we are of the opinion that the segregation cases do not rule the instant case and that is reason enough for not responding to the argument that we should consider them in light of the amicus curiae briefs."

The four school districts finally accepted the decisions and decided not to appeal to the United States Supreme Court which would have been their next step. Slowly they began dismantling the segregated systems in their schools.


The Mendez case glaringly exposed the invidious California laws mandating separate schools for "Indian" and "Asian" children. As a result, in 1946, Governor Warren, proposed to the Legislature that Education Codes Section 8003 and 8004 be repealed. The Legislature complied and Warren signed the bill on June 14, 1947.

Other school districts in California began shutting down their "Mexican" schools. For example, in Bell Town, a little settlement near Riverside, organizer Fred Ross helped the Mexican American and "Negro" families found the Bell Town Improvement League. Citing the Mendez case, they petitioned the school authorities to open up the "white" school. On September 16, 1946, the superintendent of schools told his staff: "If there is as much as one segregated Mexican American pupil see to it that he gets unsegregated immediately."

"The New York Times reported that the Riverside School District, threatened with a lawsuit, ended segregated schools for Mexican American children."

In 1947 in Texas, Price Daniels, the Attorney General of the State, issued an advisory opinion which forbade "blind" segregation of its Mexican-descended students, but he continued to justify separate schools or classes for "linguistically deficient" pupils.

In 1947, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) activists filed suit in the West District Federal court of Texas, Delgado v Batrop Independent School District, and the court ended state-mandated segregation of all Mexican American children, unless they were "linguistically English deficient." The legal campaign in Texas resulted in the United States Supreme Court’s decision of Hernandez v State of Texas, (1954), just two weeks before Brown, which held that under the Fourteenth Amendment, it was unlawful to exclude Mexican Americans from jury service based solely on their national origin.

In 1948, my father, Alfred V. Aguirre, a World War II veteran, formed "Veterans and Citizens of Placentia", a group composed of Mexican American World War II veterans. The organization registered over 300 Placentia citizens to vote. That year, my father and Ted Duran, a member of the group, consulted with G.W. Marshall, a prominent Los Angeles attorney. They asked Marshall if the Mendez case could be used to end segregation of Mexican American children in Placentia’s schools. Marshall counseled that the same legal principles applied; therefore, such a lawsuit would be successful. But Marshall advised that the group should petition the Placentia School Board one more time before filing the lawsuit. Under threat of a law suit, the school officials relented and opened Bradford Elementary School to all students. In 1949, the "Mexican" school closed due to lack of attendance. I entered kindergarten at Bradford in 1951, thus escaped being forced to attend the "Mexican" school.

In Arizona in 1951, a Federal Court judge followed Mendez and in Gonzalez v Sheely , enjoined the school district from maintaining separate schools for Mexican American children. Other school districts in Arizona followed suit and "voluntarily" integrated their schools.



Earl Warren was born in 1891 in Los Angeles and was raised in Bakersfield, California. He served as the District Attorney for Alameda County from 1925 to 1939 and Attorney General of California from 1939 to 1943. He witnessed the disparate treatment of Mexican Americans in California. He knew that U. S. Webb, the Attorney General of California, had issued the following Opinion in 1929: "I find no authority in the law of this state for the establishment of separate schools for Mexicans."

In addition, Warren must have heard about the San Diego County Superior Court decision in 1931 regarding the segregation of Mexican American children in the little town of Lemon Grove, California. In that case, entitled Alvarez v Lemon Grove, Judge Claude L. Chambers ruled that Mexican American children were considered "white"; therefore they could not be arbitrarily separated from other "white" children. "The Lemon Grove case ultimately helped defeat the Bliss bill in the California Legislature, which attempted to reclassify "Mexicans" as "Indians" so that they could be legally segregated under California law (Education Codes 8003 and 8004) at the time."

Earl Warren, a Republican, was elected Governor of California three times in 1942, 1946 and 1950. He enjoyed tremendous bipartisan political support as he was on both the Republican and Democratic tickets in 1946 and 1950.

In 1946, Governor Earl Warren directed the Attorney General’s office to assist the plaintiffs in the Mendez case. In his biography of Warren, Ed Cray states: "He aligned the state against an Orange County school district that sought to assign Hispanic pupils to separate grammar schools." Therefore, Warren probably read Judge McCormick’s decision in Mendez and understood the legal and political issues otherwise he would not have ordered the Attorney General to intervene.

On September 30, 1953, President Eisenhower named Warren Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The initial reaction to the new Chief Justice was not uniformly warm. (Justice) Felix Frankfurter groused privately that Warren was just a political hack, and several critics noted his lack of prior judicial experience, a deficiency he shared with (Justices) John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes and Harlan Fiske Stone. But within a few weeks, the hearty and solicitous Warren won over the justices; he sought Frankfurter’s counsel, soothed (Justice) Jackson’s hurt feelings, asked (Justice) Black to preside at the first conference, and brightened the Court’s dimmer lights — (Justices) Burton, Clark and Minton — with his glow.

On December 7, 1953, the second round of arguments began in Brown and the four other related school segregation cases of Briggs v South Carolina, Gebhart v Belton (Delaware), Davis v Prince Edward County (Virginia) and Bolling v Sharpe (District of Columbia). Professor Peter Irons describes the series of events that followed and Warren’s aggressive leadership:

The arguments concluded on December 10, 1953, but five months passed before Chief Justice Warren announced the Court’s decision. During that time, the Court’s marble walls concealed from outsiders the politicking that swirled inside. Earl Warren made no pretensions of legal scholarship, but no other justice ever matched his political skills. Even more than Frankfurter, the Chief was determined to forge a unanimous Court around a brief and forceful opinion. Only if the justices spoke with one voice, in words the American people could understand, would the Court be able to help the nation heal its racial wounds. Warren set himself an ambitious task, and spent months cajoling his colleagues. Three justices required the full Warren treatment. Warren won over Frankfurter by suggesting that the Court issue the opinion (in the form) he wanted by giving the southern districts time to comply "with all deliberate speed", and also order a third round of argument on methods of compliance. Stanley Reed finally succumbed to Warren after more than twenty lunchtime discussions.


On May 17, 1954, the rookie Chief Justice orally read his decision to the courtroom stating that "We conclude unanimously (effect added) that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place." However, the printed opinion in Brown does not contain the word "unanimously." Obviously Warren added it for emphasis and for the reporters.

Significantly, Warren’s forceful, yet easily understood ruling in Brown mirrored the language and sentiment of McCormick’s decision in Mendez. For example:

    • Mendez: "... Commingling of the entire student body instills and develops a common cultural attitude among the school children which is imperative for the perpetuation of American institutions and ideals."
    • Brown : "It (education) is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today, it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values ..."
    • Mendez: "The evidence clearly shows that Spanish-speaking children are retarded in learning English by lack of exposure to its use because of segregation ..."
    • Brown: "Segregation with the sanction of law therefore has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system."
    • Mendez: "It is also established by the record that the methods of segregation prevalent in the defendant school districts foster antagonisms in the children and suggest inferiority among them where none exists."
    • Brown: "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group."
    • Mendez: "The equal protection of the laws’ pertaining to the public school system in California is not provided by furnishing in separate schools the same technical facilities, text books and courses of instruction to children of Mexican ancestry that are available to the other public school children regardless of their ancestry."
    • Brown: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate education facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs...are deprived of the equal protection of the laws..."
    • Mendez: "A paramount requisite in the American system of public education is social equality. It must be open to all children by unified school association regardless of lineage."
    • Brown: "In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms"

Based on all the foregoing, it is clear that Warren read and thoroughly absorbed McCormick’s ruling in Mendez prior to authoring the Brown decision. Moreover, the Mendez decision helped shape Warren’s sense of fairness and equity which manifested itself in the Brown case and is demonstrated in the following exchange:

Warren’s sense of jurisprudence…riled (Justice) Felix Frankfurter. During one conference late in the 1957 term, Frankfurter exploded at the Chief. "God damn it, you’re a judge! You don’t decide cases by your sense of justice or your personal predilections."

"Thank heaven, I haven’t lost my sense of justice," Warren roared back.



The underlying principle of Mendez and Brown is that it exemplifies the best in our American cultural values: courage and fairness. The cases displayed the courage of Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, of Reverend Oliver Brown and all the other parents in the Mendez lawsuit and the Brown lawsuits to challenge the racist educational system through the courts for the benefit of their children and all other children and the courage of the judges in rendering unpopular, yet morally and legally fair opinions. The cases are a testament to the fairness that can be found in our legal system. Our country displays that rare quality of being able to heal itself, most of the time, from within, without resort to violence and bloodshed. Racism and other important issues have been overcome or resolved largely through our courts where justice ultimately prevails. All of which culminated in the metamorphic evolution of our society, from an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful, multi-colored butterfly.

That is the true legacy of Mendez and Brown.

For those that want to include this topic in a presentation or event, 
Judge Aguirre recommends the following be included: 

The Lemon Grove Incident which describes the 1931 lawsuit enjoining the segregated public school for Mexican American children in Lemon Grove, California; Mendez v Westminster School District - Para Todos los Ninos which details the 1945 case that stopped the practice of segregated public schools for Mexican American children in Orange County, California and was the foundation for the famous 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education: and Justice for My People - The Dr. Hector P. Garcia Story which documents the segregation of Mexican Americans in Texas and the efforts of Dr. Garcia and others to remedy the unlawful policies after World War II.

The Lemon Grove Incident can be purchased from Espinosa Productions: 
Paul Espinosa  (Click for more information on Paul Espinosa)
Espinosa Productions
P.O. Box 1925
Scottsdale, AZ 85252
fax (480) 965-3421

Mendez can be ordered through Sandra Membrila Robie,
Justice was produced by KEDT -TV, Corpus Christi, TX,


Examples of several illustrations prepared by Eddie Martinez for the October 12th Presentation.

On 6/8/05 9:07 PM, "WILLIAM LUNA" METZLI36@HOTMAIL.COM  wrote:


I'm a military historian and was the principal researcher for the 1982 DOD publication "Hispanics in America's Defense". I have a military traveling exhibit that covers over 40 tables. Recently I interviewed 22 Mexican American WWII veterans in Chicago and Indiana for Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez' WWII oral history project. I am interested in your poster. Please let me know when and how I can purchase one. Gracias! LTC William Luna, USAR-Ret, former paratrooper and Green Beret.

Dear William:

Thank you for requesting my poster. I am planning on having it available this fall. The size will be 24 inches wide x 18 inches high. I will put your name on the list and contact you when its available. I will need your mailing address.

I have used your title, “Hispanics in America’s Defense” for the poster and I am using it on the opening title of my presentation. I think its so appropriate for profiling Hispanics in the military. May I now formally ask your permission for its use on this project.

As you may already know, I am working with Mimi Lozano on the 2005 Hispanic Heritage Activities at the National Archives. I would like to inquire on the possibility of you reviewing my work thus far. As a military historian, I would consider it an academic benefit to our presentation. I will be making my PowerPoint presentation in Washington D.C., on October 12, 2005.

I am not a historian, however, as an artist I have a passion for history; especially Latino history. Since I have retired, I am concentrating on using my talent to illustrate the achievements of Latinos.

Here is my website with a cleared picture of the poster:
And last, but not least, a Gracias to you on the humanizing in historical contents the gallantry of Mexican Americans in WWII.  In addition, I have been contacted by the Office of Workplace Diversity (OWD), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Washington, D.C.  to assist them in their Hispanic Heritage Month activities.




D R A F T, December  

II. Hispanics in Federal Service

National Archives and Records Administration: History of U.S. Hispanic Americans Project


A general overview of the history of Hispanic employment in the U.S. Federal Government continues to be a history of extremes. The more substantive beginning of Hispanic representation in the non-military federal service ostensibly began at the conclusion of World War II, which was a watershed period when U.S. Hispanics discovered they were more part of the nation’s population than ever before and as such, realized they were accorded rights they only heard about but not pursued actively. The distance between the central federal government offices and the Hispanic population centers in the Southwest, along with the concomitant less than adequate communication between the centers, prevented making known employment opportunities in the federal government. This observation is borne up by noting that some of the early Hispanic government employees had served in the military where federal government employment opportunities became apparent. Up to this point in the nation’s history, the federal service workforce had been growing in keeping with its increasing presence economically, politically and militarily-both domestic and international. Two features, the poor access of federal employment opportunities and the increasing size of government led to a deficit in the representation of Hispanics in the federal service and of the influence that having Hispanic as federal employees implies. This condition began to be recognized among Hispanics already in the federal service at the time. It may be a coincidence that the recognition came at a time when the Civil Rights movement had reached a notable presence in the country. Whatever may have been the motivation, Hispanic government employees became aware that their community was not being justifiably represented in the federal workforce in proportion to its presence in the population, in proportion to their numbers that served in the military, and in proportion to the services being provided their community by the government. Notably in the latter, it was clear that the lack of Spanish-speaking government employees were causing a hardship in delivery of services to the Hispanic community. While the flavor of concerns changed through the ensuing decades, the deficit in Hispanic employment that appeared early on was never eliminated since the Hispanic population was outstripping the addition of rate of Hispanics employed in the federal service. It became clear that conducting business as usual in hiring practices would not suffice. Being that most federal employees are part of the executive branch of government, White House continues to make attempts to rectify the situation by issuance of executive orders. History shows that in spite of the orders, the situation is still not yet ameliorated and considering the non-stop growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S., short of a very dedicated and well planned hiring practices, the situation will not only stay the same but will get worse. The NARA sponsored session on the subject will place this history in perspective and while it may be too much to hope for, airing out of this issue may lend to increased realization of the correction action called for.


  1. Emma Moreno (ret’d), former Assistant to the Director of the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce and currently the Federal Relations Liaison for the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC);
  2. Sylvia Trujillo
  3. Gil Sandate, Director, Office of Workforce Diversity for the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. Also former Deputy Director for Civil Rights, U. S. Department of Agriculture; Director of Compliance Operations, Office of Civil Rights, U. S. Department of Transportation; Regional Director, Southwest Regional Complaints Center, U. S. Treasury Department; and Director, Equal Employment Opportunity Programs, U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, all in Washington, D. C.
  4. J. V. Martinez, Senior Science Advisor, Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC. Former Program Manager for Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics and college professor of physics. 31 yr service;


A copy of all print materials/media  (calendar, posters, postcards, agenda,  video recording, etc.) that are created/produced for a NARA event is preserved by the agency responsible for the event. The items are stored /saved and indexed in a Record Group.   Speakers were advised that if they wanted  to submit notes, handouts, photos, or any other supplemental materials related to the event, those would  be included in the specific packet for the event.  Suggestions were made that media coverage, newspapers, email newsletters, magazines, etc. also be collected and included.

Standard, 25-30 years later, the packets will be reviewed and a determination of historical value is placed on the materials within the packet.  Some items may be deleted.

A new policy is underway at the Archives called Electronic Records Administration, ERA.  The purpose of the new policy is to determine the best means of using electronic capabilities to store information.  The life of a CD is about 9 years, so it was recommended that any information pertaining to any of the events be sent Sam on CDs for purposes of archival storage, be accompanied by print copies as well. 

For further information on NARA, please contact: 
Maria Carosa Stanwich
Head of Operations for Museum Programs, 
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW NWE - G9  
Washington, D. C. 20408-0001 
Tel. 202-219-3419  Fax 202-501-5248

NARAs  full calendar of events is online
Reserve your seat for any event using the online reservation E-mail,



Mission Statement of Committee
To educate the American public  concerning the contributions of all  Hispanics/Latinos, (multi-racial, multi-national)  in the settlement of the North American continent 
and the founding of the United States of America.

1) To educate governmental, educational, historical, genealogical, service, military, & church organizations.
2) To provide these organizations with historical, genealogical and social data, resources, internet links, and
    access to experts in the aforementioned fields.
3) To ensure that the information received is correct, useful, and practical.

Objectives:  Not all the events will meet the objectives, but every attempt will be made so that: 
1) Participants will receive meaningful information from the conference panels and workshops which will help
    them in their dedicated fields.
2) Participants will receive data, documents, and lists of resources and Internet links for continued 
   development of personal expertise in the area of Hispanic historical contributions.
3) Participants will be provided with organizational support, following the conference, to assist in networking
    with individual sharing a common interest, whether historical, genealogical, educational or service based.

Hispanic Advisors, 2005 NARA, "Hispanics in the Formation of the American People"

Fredrick Aguirre
Superior Court Judge

Latino Advocates for Education, CA

Sam Anthony
Program Events 

National Archives and Records Administration

Sylvia Carvajal Sutton Educator, retired, TX

Texas Connection to the American Revolution

Adam Chavarria, ExDir
Denise Rodriguez-Lopez, Deputy Assist.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

Deborah Granger, Coordinator, History-Social Science

Orange County, California Department of Education


Joseph Guzman, Ph.D. Senior Economist
The CNA Corporation

Loudown County School Board member
Sugarland Run District

Mimi Lozano
Somos Primos,
Pres,  SHHAR

Committee Chair 

Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research, SHHAR
P.O. Box 490, Midway City, CA, 92655-0490

Fax: 714-898-7063                 

Eddie Martinez
Artist, illustrator

Designer Medal of Honor Monument, L.A. CA

JV Martinez, Ph.D. Senior Advisor

Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.

Contact via:

Yolanda Ochoa SHHAR Board member

SHHAR Board member
Web designer/mistress
Chicano Studies student

Maria Angeles O'Donnell Olson

Honorary Consul
of Spain in San Diego

Michael Perez
L.A. Co. Administrator

SHHAR Board member
Ethnic Chair, CSGA

Manuel Recio, Ph.D.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

University of Texas, Austin, professor journalism

Refugio Rochin, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Soc. for Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science

George Ryskamp

BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy

Debbie Salazar
National Chairwoman

American GI Forum of US Kaplan student, Director of Student/Hire Program

Ivadnia Scott-Cora

Archival Operations
National Archives and Records Administration
College Park, Maryland

Brittany Skousen

BYU student, English major/Spanish minor

Christopher Wingert Sutton

11th grade student
Madison H.S., Virginia

Albert C. Zapanta

Office of the Secretary of Defense, Reserve Forces Policy Board