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Friday, Jun 21, 2024
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Sylvia Speaks

Sylvia Mendez, whose parents filed a landmark court case that helped desegregate schools in California, encouraged more than 50 high schoolers Aug. 3 to go through the doors of opportunity open to them.

Mendez spoke at the Hilton Irvine to more than 230 people at an annual dinner for Project SELF (Summer Employment with Law Firms), a program aimed at giving low-income, minority youth opportunities to gain experience and knowledge of the judicial system, as well as exposure to a professional work environment. Fifty-three youth from Santa Ana high schools were recognized for completing the eight-week program, established in 1995 by the Orange County Bar Association and the Association of Legal Administrators’ OC chapter.

Mendez is an OC native and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient who educates people about the 1946 Mendez v. Westminster case, which was filed because she was refused admission at Westminster’s 17th Street School and had to go to a nearby “Mexican” school. The case allowed her to integrate 17th Street School and contributed to the civil rights movement.

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