Civil Rights Activist Sylvia Mendez to Speak at UCR on Nov. 2

Plaintiff in Groundbreaking Desegregation Case & Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner to Kick Off Women’s Resource Center Series

Sylvia Mendez (left) and filmmaker Sandra Robbie at the Museum of Tolerance. (Photo courtesy of Chapman University)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – Civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez, a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and the plaintiff in the landmark Mendez v. Westminster School District case that desegregated California schools and helped pave the way for Brown v. the Board of Education, is scheduled to speak at UC Riverside on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 4 p.m. in the Highlander Union Building, room 302N.

The 30-minute documentary on her case, Mendez v. Westminster: For All the Children will also be screened, introduced by filmmaker Sandra Robbie.

“Mendez stands as a symbol of leadership, social justice, and hope,” said Adrienne Sims, director of the Women’s Resource Center. “Mendez is a leader in her own right. Whether you call her someone who has overcome abject adversity or a trailblazer, she’s nonetheless a success – someone who should invariably impact UCR’s current and future women leaders.”

As a young girl, Mendez and her family were the plaintiffs in the case against the Westminster school district. Her parents, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, had attempted to enroll their children in the “white school” near their Orange County home, but were denied. The Mendez family won the court case in 1947, with the victory resulting in the desegregation of public schools in California.

The event is organized by the UCR Women’s Resource Center to forward the Leadership Community for Women Initiative.

The presentation is open to the public and free to attend, though RSVP is required. A parking fee of $5.00 will be charged. RSVP online at For questions or additional information, call (951) 827-3337.

Other speakers scheduled to speak during the school year include astronaut Anna Fisher on April 3, 2012 and Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chief justice of California, on May 8, 2012.

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