Sylvia Mendez

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

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Sylvia Mendez

U.S. President Barack Obama honors Sylvia Mendez the 2010 Medal of Freedom in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, February 15, 2011, in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

U.S. President Barack Obama honors Sylvia Mendez the 2010 Medal of Freedom in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, February 15, 2011, in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

MCT

U.S. President Barack Obama honors Sylvia Mendez the 2010 Medal of Freedom in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, February 15, 2011, in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

MCT

MCT

U.S. President Barack Obama honors Sylvia Mendez the 2010 Medal of Freedom in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, February 15, 2011, in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

Persephony Phoev, Staff Writer

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Sylvia Mendez was born June 7, 1936, and grew up in Santa Ana, California. During her time in school Hispanics were sent to “Mexican schools” and were not allowed to go into “whites schools,” which prompted her parents to take action and together organized various sectors of the Hispanic community who filed a lawsuit in the local federal court, and sued the California public school system.  Mendez v. Westminster set an important precedent for ending segregation in the United States. In 2011, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama for her defense for the educational opportunity she called was “children of all backgrounds and walks of life.¨ On May 23, 2018, the board of Berkeley Unified School District voted unanimously to rename Le Conte Elementary School, located at 2241 Russell Street, as Sylvia Mendez Elementary School. The school is a Spanish-English two-way immersion school. Mendez has been a spokesperson at Berkeley schools and her story has been inspirational to Berkeley students, teachers, and parents.  She has changed so many kids life to join many different schools and have a better education for themselves and their families, but most importantly to have a better future.