Sylvia Mendez is a well-known American figure who is most known for her work as a civil rights activist. She has been active in social welfare efforts for persons with Mexican and Puerto Rican ancestry.
Mendez grew up in a time when southern and southeast schools were divided into sections. Hispanics were not permitted to attend the school that was allocated for Whites in California. For such people and children, there existed many Mexican schools. Mendez, meanwhile, had to fight hard to get accepted into any institution. She was only allowed to attend a "Whites" school.
This spurred her parents to take action and form a Hispanic community organization in order to bring a case to the local federal court. When the age of segregated educational lifestyle came to an end, the success of their acts, of which Mendez was a trigger, came to an end. As a result, on February 15, 2011, Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is considered one of the greatest civilian distinctions.
Sylvia Mendez Bio & Early Life
Sylvia Mendez was born on June 7, 1936, and will be 86 years old in 2022. Her kind and compassionate parents, Gonzalo Mendez (a Mexican immigrant who built a thriving agricultural company in California) and Felicitas Mendez, raised her in Santa Ana, California (who was a native of Juncos, Puerto Rico). The Mendez family had to relocate from Santa Ana to Westminster during World War II, and they fought to reclaim their farm, which they had rented from a Japanese-American family and then sent to an internment camp.
This was a pivotal moment in American history when racial discrimination was rampant, and Hispanics and other minorities were denied equal rights. During the 1940s, Westminster had just two schools; nonetheless, the district insisted that Hispanics and Whites be taught on different campuses.
Faced Racism & Struggle
Mendez's family attempted to register her and her brother's names at a local primary school when they were both eight years old. Mendez, on the other hand, was denied entrance because she was black and of Hispanic descent. Mendez was unable to have her admitted to either of the two schools due to the tiny size of the school and the lack of certain amenities. Mendez took legal action against the authorities and the school's law as a result of this. It was 1943, and Mendez was only eight years old when she went to the primary school with her aunt Sally Vidaurri, brothers, and cousins to enroll all of the children.
Her aunt was assured by the school's administration that her children's skin was light, thus they would be admitted. Mendez and her brother, on the other hand, were denied admittance because she was dark and a member of the Hispanic community. Mrs. Sally Vidaurri stormed out of the school with her children, niece, and nephew as a result of this. Sylvia Mendez had to fight for her rights in court for years. She was successful in her work while also filing a lawsuit in court, requesting that Hispanics be allowed to attend prestigious and reputable institutions.
Sylvia and her siblings finally registered at 17th Street Elementary School (which was reserved for Whites) in January 1948, becoming the first Hispanics to be permitted to sit in the Whites-only school.
Sylvia Career & Net Worth
Sylvia lost both of her parents and finally began a profession in a well-equipped educational organization. She did, however, have to deal with a variety of issues, such as being called a variety of names while still in school. But she persevered in her studies since she realized she would have to struggle for a long time. She became a nurse, acquired a moveable position with a comfortable lifestyle, and worked for at least 30 years before retiring.
Sylvia is undoubtedly well compensated. She has worked in the fields of education and raising public awareness of people's freedoms and rights. Sylvia has worked as an activist for a number of years. She also had a long career as a nurse, having worked for at least 30 years. The net worth of Sylvia Mendez is believed to be approximately $1 million.
Sylvia Mendez did not marry for the rest of her life. She adopted two girls from Fullerton, California, who are meant to reside there. Mendez used to travel and give talks about her life and how, as a Hispanic woman, she came to fight for her educational rights. She filed a proper complaint, battled, and was eventually accepted into the educational institutions. With this victory, California became the first country to abolish school segregation, opening the door for other countries to follow suit.