Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children

Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children
Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children/Para Todos los Niños

Felicitas Mendez and Gonzalo Mendez
Directed by Sandra Robbie
Produced by Executive Producers:
Maria-Hall Brown
Ed Miskevich
Sandra Robbie
Written by Sandra Robbie
Narrated by Sandra Robbie
Starring Sylvia Mendez
Editing by Harold Elyea
Distributed by Sandra Robbie Productions
Release date(s) 2003
Running time 30 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children/Para Todos los Niños is a 2003 American documentary film written, directed, and produced by Sandra Robbie. The film features Sylvia Mendez, Robert L. Carter, and others.[1]



In the mid-1940s, a tenant farmer named Gonzalo Mendez moved his family to the predominantly white Westminster district in Orange County and his children were denied admission to the public school on Seventeenth Street. The Mendez family move was prompted by the opportunity to lease a 60-acre (240,000 m2) farm in Westminster from the Munemitsus, a Japanese family who had been relocated to a Japanese internment camp during World War II. The income the Mendez family earned from the farm enabled them to hire attorney David Marcus and pursue litigation.

In 1945, the plaintiffs of Mendez, Palomino, Estrada, Guzman and Ramirez filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 5,000 Mexican American children to integrate the schools in four Orange County school districts: Westminster, El Modena, Santa Ana, and Garden Grove.


Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children/Para Todos los Niños discusses the little-known Orange County case that made California the first state in the nation to end school segregation – seven years before Brown v. Board of Education. NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall and then-California Governor Earl Warren played key roles in both cases.

Unlike Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which focused on racial discrimination and upheld the constitutionality of segregation based on race in public accommodations under the doctrine of "separate but equal," the plaintiffs in Mendez v. Westminster argued that the students were segregated into separate schools based solely on their national origin.

The U.S. Postal Service commemorated the Mendez case on a postage stamp in September 2007.[2]






  • Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities. Editors Eric Margolis and Mary Romero, Blackwell Companions to Sociology. Blackwell Publishing. 2005. 
  • Gonzalez, Gilbert G. (1994). Labor and Community: Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County, 1900-1950. University of Illinois Press. 
  • Gordon, June (2000). Color Of Teaching. Educational Change and Development Series. RoutledgeFalmer. 
  • Meier, Matt S. and Margo Gutierrez (2000). Encyclopedia of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Greenwood Press. 
  • Oropeza, Lorena (2005). Raza Sí! Guerra No!: Chicano Protest and Patriotism during the Viet Nam War Era. University of California Press. 
  • David S. Ettinger, The History of School Desegregation in the Ninth Circuit, 12 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 481, 484-487 (1979).


External links

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