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Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner to Speak at Cal Maritime


Sylvia Mendez(Vallejo, California – March 11, 2016) – Civil Rights Activist and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Sylvia Mendez, will speak at the California State University Maritime Academy at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 22nd.  The public is invited to sign up for this free talk co-sponsored by the Cal Maritime Rizza Lecture Series and the Cal Maritime Unity Council. 

Ms. Mendez is best known for the role she played in ending segregation of Orange County schools. When she was eight years old, Sylvia was turned away from a California public school that was "for whites only."  Her parents filed a class action suit against four California public school districts and their legal victory, in Mendez v. Westminister marked the end of legal segregation in California. In fact, the case laid the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education which ended segregation across the nation almost a decade later.  This was not a coincidence—Sylvia Mendez was represented by Thurgood Marshall, who later argued Brown v. Board before the Supreme Court and used many of the same arguments as in the Mendez case.
Cal Maritime cadet Alejandra Salgado, who serves as vice president of the Latino Club and a member of the campus Unity Council, is one of many students eager to meet Ms. Mendez.  "I wish I would have learned about her story sooner. Not only did her parents help out the Mexican families in Orange County but other people of different ethnic backgrounds as well," Salagado said. "It shows that working together we can make the change we want to see in the world."
Ms. Mendez will be speaking in the Compass Room on the third floor of the Cal Maritime Dining Center. While admission to the event is free to the community, there will be a $5.00 charge for parking. Parking permits can be obtained from the kiosk in parking lots B & D. For more information about Cal Maritime's Unity Council, visit: www.csum.edu/web/diversity/home/unity-council. For a map and directions to campus, visit www.csum.edu/map

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Last updated: 8/27/20