Will This Be on the Test? Transcripts
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Hi everybody and welcome to Will This Be On The Test a podcast where we talk about the things that we didn't learn in school.
I'm Mattie. This week we are doing something a little not different. But theme we don't normally do themes
we do accidentally do themes.
We are reaching the end of Hispanic Heritage Month right now and we thought it'd be very important to highlight a couple of important figures or events in Hispanic history.
Yes. And it's hopefully this will be the first of a bunch of themed episodes we do around historic events or days, we're talking about history. So you know, Christmas history or whatever,
full disclosure, we are both very white people,
uh, glow in the dark white.
We grew up going to predominantly white schools for the most part. And as a result, we didn't learn a whole lot about Hispanic people or events in any of our schools. No, so bear with us if we pronounced something wrong. Or if we get a fact wrong, we're, you know, we're here to learn.
Yes, we're here to learn much more than we are to teach because you should not be using this for anything other than entertainment purposes.
As always, kids do not use us to study for your test. None of this will be on there.
Talk about things we didn't learn at school. This is circle figure. I did not learn about school. But I learned about from a genie from Aladdin rapping about him during a little commercial segment on Saturday morning cartoons.
How did you get Aladdin Saturday morning cartoons? He didn't have cable
We had ABC that was on the antenna. Oh, okay. Yeah. So Aladdin did a rap about Cesar Chavez. He was a workers rights advocate, but specifically working with farm workers and migrant workers in California and the Southwest. He was kind of an awesome guy did so much for what were the lowest paid marginalized, largely Hispanic workers in California.
Okay, very cool.
Just making sure we have a microphone plugged in and I just realized my headset was also plugged in, but it looks like we're being picked up on the mic. I'm gonna stop it for a second. Make sure please hold. We were in fact recorded on the microphone. I edit the episodes and I have literally never done Sound Editing before. It was the one thing I didn't study when I was a theater major Baptists as I try this back to Cesar Chavez.
So he was born in Yuma Arizona on March 31 1927. Just like you know, so we all know what happens in a couple of years. It's the depression.
us like, you know, and so all together
like enough so totally.
Guys that we told you last time, there's got to be a drinking game by now,
but it should be, and I hope you survive it. So he's born in Yuma, Arizona, his family did end up losing their family farm in the depression, and they had to move from Arizona to California. I've heard different stories about why they lost it. Part of it was because it was the Dust Bowl and everyone's losing their farms. Some other websites claim that he was swindled out of it by white people.
That's unheard of white people have never swindled anything.
So I'm not terribly sure which was which but both are equally likely. So they moved to California. It's the place you want to be.
It does know how to party.
It does know how to party. He did not like the schools there because He would be punished or poorly punished for speaking Spanish in school, even though he grew up in a Spanish speaking household
That will lead into mine later.
I knocked the desk.
So he didn't like school and eventually when he graduated, he did join the Navy didn't like the Navy, got another Navy got married to his wife, Polina fidella. Chavez, they had eight children.
Dang, I can barely handle four cats.
Yes, that is a lot of
I had a class that had eight kids and at once that was a little small for class but a lot for a household.
I know you got to feed them and water them.
Make sure their soil is good mix and composting for them.
I might be confusing them with plants.
We're not parents. We are very
he didn't begin work for the community service organization. He would go around he organized chapters of this. He do things like fundraising where you'd like sell Christmas trees or something. rubbage store, but it never really worked out that well. And usually they collapse shortly after he left
the Christmas trees.
Yes, the Christmas trees fall right over. We also did a lot of stuff with organizing citizens and you know, voter registration things while he was doing this, but this kind of set him down his path. When he founded the Ufw farmworkers, he became really disenfranchised with the CSL
Yeah, he just he got tired of it because he didn't feel like he was doing enough.
I don't know if that's the right word.
The word Wikipedia used.
disenfranchised, I think means what he was fighting against for the United Farm Workers, but disenchanted,
maybe disenchanted. Why do I put up with you? This is awful. In franchised with the CSO, he missed the birth of his six child because he was working.
I mean, he'd seen it before.
I mean, he'd seen five others and healthy and a couple more. So I think he'd be fun and they moved around a lot which was tough on his family, these chapters would fall apart. After he stopped setting them up and they move on that they collapse and there's just this big cycle awfulness. So in 1989 he became the director of the CSL,
okay, that's community service organization?
Community service organization.
that's the whole name of it?
I run the site. Also, the FBI started looking into him because they were working with a lot of community service organizing and union laborers and all that right stuff. It was in the middle of the Red Scare. So they started investigating him concerned. He was in fact one of those damn copyists
they did the same thing to Lucille Ball.
Yes, but she was actually because
that's kind of I can get into that another time.
One of the big things he did while he was in charge of the CSL he got permanent residents living in the state of California at access to state pensions, okay, which was a big deal to help a lot of people, especially ones that really didn't have a voice at the time because this was in 1959. He did resign from the CSO in 1962 before the farm workers association which would later become the farm workers, he was unemployed while he was organizing this meeting his family with eight children
eight eight was a lot to have with unemployed I assume his wife was also underemployed or
she was she was a farm worker.
So under employee they work 70 hours a week because yet farm workers they have to form a union for a reason.
Yeah. And he didn't want this to be just another union but a movement. So they actually had their phrase of diva causa. Okay, you got it right. Um, I don't speak Spanish.
I it's been a while so I apologize if I got it wrong. I think it's Viva la casa. I could be very wrong. I haven't spoken Spanish in over 10 years.
I speak but many Spanish that's about it. This big movement and the doers were $3 and 50 cents a month. Once you got this up and running. The first big hurdle and when they hit the national stage was did a lot of the lotto great strike against these migrant workers because you know the world was opening up at this time. They were starting to realize that there are other places and other jobs like unions, and they went into unionize these farm workers, which was illegal.
podcasting doesn't do well for gesture that said bouncing up and down pointing at mine because that is also relevant.
The strike ended up lasting five years in total, and have thousands of workers involved in it.
Wait for five years there was limited access to wine.
These were these were table grapes. These weren't wine grapes. So don't worry.
I mean, I would not drink wine in order to help people get better pay and safer working conditions. I would but man I miss the wine.
During this time, like the workers were beaten, they shut off water to the migrant camps.
I will stop drinking wine and tonight primarily to keep that from happening.
Again, these were some of the most marginalized lowest paid workers in America at the time, which they still are. To start it. He led a 300 mile long pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento to hopefully get some attention from these growers and the state government about these awful working conditions and the fact that they wanted to organize they didn't listen. So he had some of his followers follow a great shipment from these fields to the docks. And they spoke to the longshoremen about how they wanted to unionize and the longshoremen decided they were not going to load any non union picked grapes
Oh that's so cool
and 1010 10 cases of grapes rotted in Port good for them didn't stop there. Definitely the good the lunchroom and they got warehouse men also refuse to load not eating grapes. Do you have any like statistics on who these people were not because I just wonder if they were people of color as well. It's possible. I mean, that's the longshoremen union. So it's, it's a big organization. It still is. I don't know. I think they've rolled in with the Teamsters. Now,
I don't know much about unions outside of the union that I used to be in. I know they exist. And I know that they can help people. A little bit of full disclosure here.
I am from a gigantically pro union family. My grandpa was the president of his local union chapter of the UAW, that's the United Auto Workers. And he basically spent his entire life doing union II things. So I've got a little bit of a pro union bias.
I think most of my family was in an unionized fields and except for teachers like me, where we did have unions,
so they also lead a consumer boycott against the two big great companies. Delano Valley schenley Industries and digiorgio Corporation. And this was a huge success. It was like suburban moms would stop buying grapes from these people. So they were having huge losses. Good job, Karen. Good job, Karen. But the great companies were not really happy about this what I know so they actually would hire criminals to go in and break up union meetings. They've turned over tables, beat people, stomp on ballot boxes, harass and threaten everybody. But in 1970 again, after five years of striking and fighting over over unionizing...Oh hi, Fezzik!
He just needed us again on about that one picked up. Oh, big boy.
So in 1970, after five years of striking, they finally reached an agreement that included higher pay for these migrant workers, sub healthcare benefits. Safety protections from pesticides. They didn't care about that until then it's like oh, well, you mean you're dying from these poisons. Well toughen up. How we doing on these things today, though? Not much better. Yeah. So this was a big victory for the Ufw. And then shortly after that, there was united states largest farm workers strike. It was the largest in American history. It was the salad bowl strike. It kind of started out as a dispute with the Teamsters. And these growers and the Teamsters were granted all of these union benefits, but they left the the farm workers out of it, which made the Ufw mad So hey, we're the farm workers union. We should have been involved in this and they weren't about this is like our turf. What do you do it? At this point, Chavez went on one of his many hunger strikes. This was one of the main things he do. He believed lots of hunger strikes, passive resistance, all that stuff he learned by reading about Gandhi. And as they started, they had lettuce boycotts, again, like don't buy not even to let us lettuce growers were losing about $500,000 a day.
And this is 1959 money.
This is in 19 70 money.
So that's about $3 billion a day now.
Yes, that is five iPhones a day.
Especially the one with the three cameras.
It's got three cameras, but I mean,
my phone is terrible.
Oh God, I love my phone. Where was I? phones?
So 550 500,000 $500,000 a
day, the price of lettuce doubled. Consumers are paying twice as much for lettuce, which they were not happy about. A California Court ordered the end of the strike. They were some they were striking illegally and they had to go to work.
Oh, okay. I was I was asking if they could do that. It's not an official union at this point is not there we go. Okay. Okay.
Obviously, Cesar Chavez and the strikers refused. And again, the lettuce boycott was still going on. At this point. There was widespread violence. There. were shooting Rock throwing which both sides were throwing rocks at each other, which was less bad than the beatings that the pro union people were getting from the growers, and they bombed one of the Ufw offices at that time. There were no fatalities of the bombing, thankfully. Yeah, but shortly after that, Cesar Chavez was arrested. This is the first time he was arrested, by the way. Oh, wow. If they had been watching him, yeah, I didn't watch him. We'll get into like part of why the FBI watching him was hilarious when he was arrested RFK his widow and Olympic gold winner referer Johnson came to visit him in prison to support him. They were attacked by anti union mobs outside the prison. And the police and various organizations had to intervene to notice him to being a full on Riot
and an assassination attempt.
It was RFK his widow,
I think that's still an assassination. It got bad.
He was released by order of the California Supreme Court on December 23. So he He was in jail for two weeks. That is he was in jail for this for more time than Felicity Huffman is going to be in jail.
Don't get me started on that nonsense.
Yeah. The day after he was released from jail, he hoped for a strike and boycott of six additional lettuce growers. So the strike ended on March 26 1971, and they were fully allowed to unionize. This was a colossal victory for the Ufw and these migrant workers in California at the time. However, at this time, Cesar Chavez was staunchly anti immigrant. Okay, specifically, illegal immigrants and capping. migrant workers were allowed to come in the United States, because a lot of them were used as union breaking labor and scab workers by these growers, because they were not union members, and they would work for way less than anyone else would
Was his problem that they were immigrants or that they were scabs,
that they were scabs that they were coming in and taking jobs away from his union workers. Okay. Yeah, this. I mean, this is this is one of those kind of gray areas of
this goes back to the idea that, in general, people are neither fully heroes or fully villain. Yeah.
And I was actually kind of struggling if whether I wanted to put this in there. And not just because there is currently a ton of recording lots of disgusting anti immigrant rhetoric out there. And I wasn't sure if I wanted to include it.
We don't want to talk about anything ahead of time, but we discussed whether or not to leave that in. And we decided to be the equivalent of covering up things that other historical figures have done to fully hero phi them. And that's not giving a fair and balanced or full story,
though. It is not. So we love to Dan, including the stuff about how he would report illegal immigrants working for these growers and he also set up a human chain To try and prevent border crossing
hands across America,
but a very specific part of America later on when Jerry Brown was elected, Jerry Brown's been around for forever. And I think we could do a story on the Gold Rush. And it'll be Governor Jerry Brown shooting while bill or something.
Governor Jerry Brown, he was the actual person in charge of Roanoke.
Yeah, he's been around forever. It's terrifying. So he got elected with the support of the Ufw, but after he was elected the group kind of cold on the union. It's like, we don't really want to support you that much. Cesar Chavez organized a march from Modesto, and it was just huge. 15,000 people were a part of it by the end. Shortly after that Jerry Brown decided he did support the Ufw After all,
this is 15,000 people before Facebook could invite
them. Yeah, this was word of mouth and they were like, what's this group walking through our town? It's like, Oh, yeah, let's walk with them. In 1975. He signed a bill that was the California agricultural labor relations. Act, which established collective bargaining for farm workers and set up a state board to help organize and run it. It was underfunded and didn't really work well and kind of collapsed it on itself within a year, but it was a good start. Unfortunately, after this thing started falling apart, he tried to pass another bill that would further protect unions proposition 14. It was resoundingly defeated in California, Cesar Chavez was constantly railing against disloyalty from his people. He was accusing them of being communists, because again, he was also staunchly anti communist.
I hate that word disloyal.
And to fight this loyalty. He used a method developed by a cult called sin and on it started out as a drug rehabilitation program and slowly devolved into a cult. Wait a second. This was on my favorite my favorite murder. Yeah. So they use the game with which they would be raped and abused until they would kind of break down. That's what he used for the people who worked for the union.
That is a problem. They feel like unions nowadays are there to defend you against that.
Yeah, that's They are there to defend you against that. He also accused people of being spies for the Republican Party and for communists, so it was lots of paranoia happening, things were going well, and he didn't handle the problem from studying success to struggling with maintaining things very well,
where his wife and kids during all this, they were around all around, because there were so many of
them. There are two really big gaps that happened in 1977 and attempt to reach out to Filipino migrant workers in California. He met with Marcos in Manila, and endorsed his regime. This was also at the time, all of the human men's rights violations were kind of coming to light. And it was a it was not a good move on his part to endorse Marcos, he also in the mid 80s, decided to do some real estate investing. And one of the firm's invested in was using non union labor. There was an expert say about this, and it was to quote, The newspaper and embarrassment. He was starting to struggle near the end of his life. In 1988. He decided they were going to do a another great boycott, again against pesticides being unstable used around workers. This time He fasted for 35 days, he lost 30 pounds and develop health problems that would follow him for the rest of his life.
Yeah, that'll do it.
Unfortunately, this boycott fail. They did not meet any of their goals. He did die on April 23rd 1993.
What year was he born 2727. So the paranoia started in the 70s. And he wasn't old enough to necessarily probably have dementia or anything.
Yep. It just you know, sometimes you struggle and it's just,
yeah, that's that's a stressful life he led up until that point.
But you know, he did a lot of good. So anyway, in 1994 he posthumously got the Presidential Medal Medal of Freedom.
from George George Clinton from Bill. George Clinton and the parliament funkadelic gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bill Clinton, gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. I have a genius. And in 2006 I wrote it down as governor Terminator because I couldn't remember how to sell sports. megger Governor Schwarzenegger inducted him into the California Hall of Fame. This is a fun fact. Barack Obama used one of his slogans, it was si, se puede?
Si, se puede.
puede? Or Yes, we can,
can be royals. I think you said not long after it. And
then yeah, Obama also visited his grave in 2012. So,
yeah, he's a he's a solid example of a complicated historical figure.
Yes, he did so much for so many people, and very passionate about what he did. So are you ready for some questions?
These questions are whether or not something would be on a test and not asking for the answers to the questions.
Yes. So will these questions be on the test will affect that he was punished in school for speaking Spanish be on the test?
Probably not. But that relates back to my story with my reasoning.
Will, the fact that he is peaceful protests, civil disobedience and fasting as part of his methods beyond the test,
Will the fact that the dealt a lot of great strike less than five years be On the test, yes,
anything, okay, kids, anything that has a number like a year or set of years
attached will always be on the test. You see, I don't think it will. Because it's like this was a five year struggle. All of these stories, they get wrapped up quickly. It's like a to be you're not going to learn that this was actually five years of hard work.
I think you'll learn that it was five years, you just won't know what went into it. They'll be like from this year to this year, this strike happens. Those are the things that will be on the test. I don't think it will be you know, day by day or even year by year it will just be these were the years that it happened. Think about, you know, wars that last a really long time. But like this year last, this war lasted 11 years. Here's how it began. Here's maybe a major battle in the middle. Yeah.
So that is Cesar Chavez, the man I learned about because Robin Williams rapped about him to me.
I never heard about him in school. I think the only reason we even really know he was a thing was that he died fter we were born.
So we are barely old enough to understand, the news to any real extent.
And I asked being in the Midwest, we probably wouldn't have heard about one of those California activists.
So my story today, it occurs before you worse, but it involves some of the same issues. This was something we really really should have learned about in school. There's no valid reason that this wasn't taught my sources for this because this gets a lot of things our Wikipedia Library of Congress Sylvia Mendez on website tolerance.org and then a few other places that I picked one or two things out of Austin can attest to this. I was really writing with struggle bus trying to find something
she was she was like I needed to Rita Marino and then
I decided not to be Rita Moreno simply because she's still so active. And she's so amazing. Love her but the reason I struggled was because Every historical figure I found, there was nothing It was saying they did this amazing thing. And then the article, but inside Google them, and there'd be nothing again. And then there were historical events, but they would get so in depth that it would be two episodes, at least to cover them. And it really bothers me that I can't find really good in depth stories about very many Hispanic figures for us. And I think that goes back to the fact that the history of Latin Americans, Hispanic people, everybody from all of that part of the world isn't really celebrated in this country like it should be, because I didn't want to do somebody that I had any name recognition for. And even the ones I did have some there wasn't a whole lot except for Cesar Chavez. There was everything But back to him. I actually was doing the Chicano movement at first. And that was just there was so much there, but Austin told me he was going to try this. I'm like, Well that I should just skip it because that was what he was involved with. And then I asked Austin, and he said, I didn't see those words anywhere.
No, I mostly focused on the union stuff.
But I found somebody I thought, well, it's really a family that I found who were amazing. Absolutely amazing. Are you ready? So in school, we learned at least a little bit about Ruby Bridges.
I learned nothing about Ruby Bridges until I was in college.
I think the only reason I learned about her was we looked at that piece of art, where it's her and the tomato on the wall. And I think we might have looked at the photo of the crazy lady screaming at her. She wasn't the first really know she was the first African American child to integrate a school. But before her there was Sylvia Mendez. I'll be talking today about Mendez versus Westminster. I initially started trying to find just the Sylvia Mendez story, but it was so much more than that. So I'm talking about the entire court case. You ever heard of Mendez vs. Winchester?
I think I have. But I also followed Supreme Court blog. So I just don't know what the specifics of it were.
All right. I had never heard about this ever. And that's really baffling not just because of what it did for the country, but for some of the figures who are involved. You're going to recognize the names
like Jerry Brown,
no, damn it. No, he is not in this story. So Sylvia Mendez was born on June 7 1936, tickets, Zillow and Trulia. cetus Mendez. Her father was a Mexican immigrant who was running an agricultural business. And her mother was Puerto Rican. Her family moved from Santa Ana, California to Westminster, California to run a farm that was owned by a Japanese American family who had been sent to the internment camps.
Oh, we're off to a great start here. Yeah, they reject story of the year
they rented the farm and they were running it for the wall. They were gone. Gonzalo had become a naturalized to the citizen and police test was born in the US territory. And all of their children were born in the United States. So these are all citizens here. The father had been an immigrant, obviously, because he was naturalized. And I'm just mentioning that because I think it's something that will matter to some people. I think, you know, equality is important no matter what. The town of Westminster only had two schools Hoover elementary and 17th Street Elementary. They were part of the Orange County School District, which were segregated at the time.
when we learned about segregation in schools. We only learned about black with a white people. Yep, there was no mention of people of any other descent. Did you ever I literally heard nothing. We heard
again about people of Japanese descent about the whole internment camp thing.
That was a side note for me at best. Yeah, we had like, it might have been like a little sub chapter on it. But yeah, we had a bit of it.
But with the they mentioned where they went to school before that, no.
So I've always kind of wondered how segregation impacted people who were neither black nor white. Like Some idle googling over the years never come up with much. I've seen mentioned that children of Asian descent were some their own schools, but I've also seen that they were not since their own schools. Same thing with Latino people. And I've seen almost nothing about buses and public spaces. Then I started reading about Sylvia Mendez and her family. And I learned that there were Hispanic only schools in California. They were cooking Mexican schools. I kind of doubt everybody there was Mexican. I mean, Sylvia was Mexican and Puerto Rican. I think it was just if you had a certain skin color and speak Spanish or someone in your family speak Spanish.
So for those of you who can't hear my IRA, or the sound of that blood vessel bursting in my head, I'm making lots of faces right now.
Now, this is where it gets back to what my question was them. Mexican Americans were generally considered to be white legally, and therefore were unaffected by legal segregation. They work generally and I keep using generally because that's the legal sense. It's not in practice and they weren't people weren't, you know, oh, we're not racist. They could share pools they could share theaters they could share other was segregated spaces. California though and thinking about California these days where it's progressive, progressive progressive,
Ban plastic straws
progressive, progressive California and the South West were the ones to start enacting an official slash illegal segregation against Latino people. California and the southwest of
In the 1940s, a group of school districts in California began to fight against alone Mexican students to attend their schools. They said that the language barrier meant that they had special needs as if they're not as smart as white kids. The schools only existed for three grade four. And they were saying that they were going to prepare it and they're going to prepare the kids to attend those mainstream schools. But they ultimately moved towards forcing all students of Mexican and Latino heritage into the schools regardless of if they could speak English. Since Mexicans were considered white. At the time. It was a form of unlawful discrimination. But nobody said anything. Because it was the 1940s at this time.
Oh, so they're like, it's like, Germany is doing things so we can't
pay attention to this that actually things like that come up in the original thing. I was researching Sylvia and her two brothers who were named Geronimo and ghazala Jr. They attended Hoover Elementary, which was the Mexican school. A two room What in Shek and their towns Mexican Colonia, which is a Mexican neighborhood. Typically the colonias were lower income, less resources, things like that kind of like we still have unofficial may segregation to their 17th Street Elementary, on the other hand was the white school it was only a mile away, had a big beautiful building. It was surrounded by palm trees. It had a lawn. This was a two room shack outside of a muddy cow field versus 17th Street Elementary. 17th Street also had more experienced teachers, modern equipment, and a totally different curriculum. So separate but equals already knocked off just based on the curriculum, especially because 17th Street taught things like geometry biology, school work. Yeah, Hoover taught boys how to work in trades and girls how to be homemakers. Oh, now there's nothing wrong with working in the trade or being a homemaker. Hmm, it's one one. Those are the only options that are presented to you. Yes. And that made this inherently unequal. The fear openly was that Mexican Americans would become dissatisfied with working on the farms which is why To get my papers and would want other jobs with one school superintendent saying they were, quote, trying to help these children at take their place in society and a Texas and not covering the Texas Superintendent saying and it was a much longer analogy, but if a man has much sense or education, he is not going to stick to this kind of work. So you see, it is up to the white population to keep the Mexican on his knees.
That is some bullshit.
Yeah, and they weren't. They weren't even trying to hide the fact that this was discrimination. They weren't even trying to hide the fact that they were separate and equal. People just ignored it. It's worth noting that prior to this, the Mendez family had been able to send their kids to whatever school they wanted, like or whatever school was their homeschool, they moved to Westminster and suddenly they had to send their kids to the Mexican school. Her dad who was Gonzalo who is the coolest saw the difference and so he said to I don't know if it was his sister, his wife sister, Soledad or Sally v. minari. It's a bath class name and I don't speak a word of French. Beth. I don't know.
I think that's the really, really speak Spanish.
I've heard that I've heard that closing is both Basque and French. I don't know. So he said to her, take my kids to 17th Street and enrolled up. So she took Geronimo, Gonzalo Junior Sylvia, and then her own children who were Allison Virginia to go enroll. The school leadership looks at the kids, five kids, here's their names, and said that Sally's kids could attend because they had white names. They had a non Hispanic last name. They had light skin and lennier Sylvia and her brothers could not attend because they had dark skin and Spanish things. This is what they were told. So Sally walked out with all five kids and refused to enroll her children or the other kids in either school. So Sylvia pretty Decided to fight. Nobody wants this. They just want their kids to get an education. Nobody should really have to try to understand why your kids are being denied in education. So they began to fight for these tasks ran the business, welcome. zolo began to meet with leaders throughout the community. He wrote to the Board of Education, and all his requests for desegregation words not kept bugging them is like, hey, hey, hey, I'm still here. I'm not backing the fuck down. You're going to educate my children. Finally, the superintendent says, Okay, we're tired of you. Your kids can come nobody else can. Oh,
that's like, would you take that deal? I would not take that deal. It's like No, fuck you. It's everyone's kids. Do you think of politics? I do know. It's everyone's kids.
Exactly. He didn't want his kids to have more opportunities than anyone else. He initially struggled to find support from local Latino organizations. But on March second 1945, he and four other dads got together and filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles federal court against foreign different school districts which I forgot to write down in Orange County on behalf of approximately 5000 Hispanic American children. The Mendez family hired David Marcus, who was a Jewish American civil rights attorney who had won similar desegregation lawsuits previously but never won for schools because schools were still segregated. But he'd one ones for other Hispanic families in California for the next year for these tough took over the business, like I mentioned, and Gonzalo and David drove across Orange County stopped at farms and colonias trying to convince Mexican American families to participate in the lawsuit in some way, whether it's adding their name, whether it's serving as witnesses, things like that, again, there was a great deal of resistance, not a
catfight. I mean is it is past five o'clock and they are starving to death.
Not because they didn't agree with them, but because probably rightfully, they were afraid of getting fired if they're white boss. doubt that they were leaving work at especially to go fight against something that white people had instituted they'd be fired. So Gonzalo remember I mentioned he was he ran agricultural businesses. He had made enough money and Uber as an immigrant, to pay for people's transportation and lost wages if they agreed to testify. He also paid all of the legal fees. So the numbers began to rise and the trial began. The superintendent's of Orange County Schools said quote, Mexicans are inferior in personal hygiene ability and their economic outlook. They further elaborated to show that the language ability could allow them to not learn even basic things in English. The hygiene issues included lice and tuberculosis and generally being disgusting. And then they had the defense attorney.
Oh, please tell me what the show
ago. Oh go off argued that placebo Is Ferguson a lot for separate but equal schools and that special Mexican schools allow children to learn English and become Americanized, which will be beneficial to everyone because we don't want kids acting like they're not natural born citizens are speaking with an accent I guess he ignored the fact that Mexican students were encouraged to leave school by eighth grade while white students were on. Dave Marcus comes back in attorney brought forth experts to dispute the claims about hygiene and made a truly genius move based on language thing he called a bunch of kids to testify, including but not limited to the Mendez children all of whom were fluent in English. Despite being between seven and nine years old. It was uncovered that it wasn't just them. The majority of students at Hoover spoke English, and no tests were ever given to see if they should be at Hoover or 17th Street while the district's tried then to argue that it was time Totally absolutely not about race has nothing to do with these kids are not like they need additional help. That's what they're trying to say. They were undermined by the Garden Grove School District Superintendent. Now this is not his exact quote. This is a quote from tolerance.org. But I could not have phrased it better. They summarize what he said. The Garden Grove School District Superintendent said that Mexicans were cult intellectually culturally and morally inferior to European Americans. Even if a Latino child has the same qualifications as a white child, he would never allow the Latino child to enroll in an English school.
Wow. It's not a race. No. It's about race. Ignore this guy who's saying it's exactly
about race. It went on and it went on. And then on February 18 1946, Judge Paul J. McCormick. McCormick, cited with the Mendez family and their club plaintiffs stating that segregating schools violated their 14th Amendment rights and that segregation Foster's antagonisms in the children and suggests inferiority among them where none exists. Yes, he also argued correctly that segregation based on language works against language acquisition. Hmm. My master's thesis was theater for a second language education. All evidence says that if you segregate kids, away from whatever language you're trying to learn, to teach them in their own language, their language acquisition will be much slower. Think about how much more people learn a language when they go study in that country versus when they just sit in the classroom try to learn it. Of course the school district appealed. That's when all hell broke loose for them. The ACLU American Jewish Congress, Japanese American citizens League and the n double acp with Representative Thurgood Marshall jumped in as a mici curat curate, which means Friends of the court. Yeah, so we literally have to Thurgood Marshall involved here. Again, this goes back to why wasn't this mentioned when we talked about Thurgood Marshall and yeah versus Board of Education. There's
a very clear precursor case. And now they're talking about it's like, I think I've heard about this case before because it was a big part of the decision and Bradley board.
So the immediacy, mec carry, it means friends up the court, which is groups or individuals that are not part of a case but can provide information expertise or insights to help the court decide. These groups all wrote briefs in support of Mendez aside, including Thurgood Marshall himself. On April 14 1947, the ninth court of appealed appeals upheld McCormick's original route ruling, and Governor Earl Warren, who should sound familiar as well signed off on outlawing segregation, only where it was not legal. He did not end legal segregation that said California became the first state to desegregate. Schools, ultimately including both Asian and Native American students in that ruling, I couldn't find anything regarding black students. I actually like googled all different kinds of things. If I had to guess, because segregation was legal for African American students, it was still decorated for them. But if anybody knows, send us a tweet about it,
yeah, at on the test pod. Actually just send us any corrections in a tweet because we would love to read them.
Nice. We're trying.
Don't be nice to me. I deserve it.
This was seven years before Brown versus Board of Education. By that time, Earl Warren, who made this ruling was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and presided over Brown versus Board of Education. So I think when they got in there, they
might have got
no on January 19 1948, Sylvia and her brothers walked through the doors at 17th Street Elementary. Yay. Shockingly, it wasn't easy. Oh, their classmates were not exactly nice to them. However, they understood the gravity of the situation and The challenges their parents faced, so they did their best to make it all worth it. Sylvia grew up to be a nurse and an adoptive mother of two and grandmother of four. During her career she became the assistant nursing director of the pediatric pavilion said pavilion of Southern California Medical Center. Her father Gonzalo, who is an absolute hero if you asked me
died of heart failure in 1964. And her mother felissa past died in Sylvia's home in 1998. I gather neither prepared spent much time dwelling on what they had done. It was more a matter of our kids got to go to school.
Yeah, we did something nice.
Now let's get back to work because they after this, they went back to just running their business. They didn't become as far as I could tell activists in a other way. quirkiness exhausting just these few years.
Yeah. Especially because they have like two kids. They're trying to get educated.
three, I found out the third one. I'm just like my mother.
You could have another sibling, you're guilty of still life. Living in Fullerton, California. She has retired. So she travels and she teaches about what her parents did. And even her own website talks about how this has been forgotten by history how her parents play has not been talked about schools how we never hear about it, how her goal is to make sure that this gets remember kind of like Eliza Hamilton after husband's death. We also talked about him much in school. No,
but fortunately, they could have musical about it.
We had a milk musical about Sylvia Mendez. Hey, Lin. Lin, you out there.
Um, excuse me. Mr. Miranda, can you please write a musical about Sylvia Mendez?
She's still alive. You can go talk to her. I bet she'd be on board with it.
It's true. Are you listening Lin? You have to listen to us.
We talked about history. In 2011. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama. Yay. She's also been on a stamp. She's been on the stamp. You got the Medal of Freedom.
didn't put you on a stamp unless you were dead
on stamp. Wow. So she got the Medal of Freedom. She said on the stamp. We never heard about her at school. Now we're getting into more The aftermath, California schools did not include this case in their curriculum until the 2010 2011. school year
when she got the Medal of Freedom. Uh huh. Probably cuz like, Oh shit, this isn't the news we better.
And I did some basic searching, there's not a really good way to search school curricula or discard state curriculum, but I wasn't able to find it being required anywhere else. And it didn't sound like it was an intensive study, even California. But I'm not sure couldn't get into the nitty gritty of the curriculum. today. There are still people trying to keep school segregated on a legal level. And we still have issues with schools being segregated in informal
get like de facto segregation.
Yeah, we have schools that are white schools, black schools, Hispanics, to this day, it's just not legally mandated anymore. And the argument segregation hurts language acquisition is true. I talked about that a little bit. We are getting better about that when you are doing second language education nowadays, they are generally integrated into typical classrooms, they often will have their own class at some point throughout the day, I used to be a second language aid, and I'm second language certified. This is one of my biggest passions, making sure everybody has the chance to learn what they deserve to learn and feel at home in the country they're living in. Yeah, yeah, states doesn't have an official language. It has a de facto language. Yeah. And knowing the language of the country you're in can make you feel more home. If you don't have you know, horrible people in charge. It's just trying to make sure that you can learn and you can have the same opportunities everybody else, regardless of what country you come from, what language you speak. So to wrap it up, the lawyer called in addition to the children's police to toss her mother to the sand and she testified in English because she was one and she said that quote, we always tell our children that they Aren't Americans
don't forget all of like Hispanic Americans who didn't come to America. America came to them.
Yeah, I never learned about that in school. Yeah, we skipped that whole section. I do know that's what happened. Yeah. So that is the Mendez vs. Winchester Westminster battle and Sylvia Mendez, the first girl to integrate schools in California, along with her brothers, who do they deserve credit to feel? I don't know what happened to them. They were mentioned again. Are you ready for questions?
I am ready for some questions.
Outside of California, will you ever see anything attempt on a test about this case?
I kind of would hope so. Because I mean, here in Kansas, we got a lot about Topeka versus the Board of Education. Because this is Kansas and that's part of our history.
You know, I I went to I didn't live in Kansas my whole life, but I was here for middle school and high school part of middle school high school part of elementary, on and off throughout my child. That I never once heard about this
I never heard about this either.
general question were will Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren appear on tests?
Oh, all the time.
Yeah. This case is really important to what came for the pastor. But this case might never be mentioned even if they are I think that's really interesting. And then here's a toughie for you I think that's the tough question. Well information about segregation and how it affected people who were neither white nor black no test
no because of God help me This is not an intentional pun, but a lot of the stuff is very black and white. I'm sorry.
You mean ism we're trying to keep things as simplistic as possible.
Yes. Teachers and students trying to be a very, very simplistic like this is a or this is a B there's no 8.5
Yeah, and that makes sense when you're teaching really young children who don't they're not outside of the black and white developmental stage yet. Yeah. By the time you get to high school, it should be there.
Yes, you really by middle school, but it's Especially by high school.
It is the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. We hope that our stories did some justice today. We learned a lot.
Yes, we wish we've learned more in school about these, Tom, I really have. And it was shocking. Like, I had both major historical figures who had gotten Presidential Medal of Freedom during our lifetime. And like, there's almost nothing out there, especially on your mind. There's quite a bit.
So what is something you learned today?
that this should have been on the test? This was this was Brown versus Board of Education before but proper support today? This is like the hipster version of it. Before it was cool, come on, man. This is big.
I had no idea who Cesar Chavez was. I didn't know darn thing. I knew the men and I could have possibly picked out a picture of him. That was one of these is Cesar Chavez. But that was never a topic that I learned about. Credit goes back to I moved around a lot as a kid and there was not a standardized history curriculum. So I learned the same thing over and over. Maybe it was part of the curriculum and I just wasn't in the right school the right time. So I learnt everything I learned this new Yeah,
I'm here again. Everything I learned except for what the GD rap to me. Yes, no.
All right, so we appreciate you taking the time to listen to us today. We are looking forward to our continuing on with this Yes, our next couple of episodes or maybe the one we I don't know yet. We're doing at least one spooky episode for Halloween possibly. Try to find us we are on the Twitter's at the test pod. And please like subscribe, whatever it is, and I've recently learned how important ratings are especially on Apple podcasts. Yeah,
which are pick this up. We're getting other podcasts or not. I'm really confused.
I've heard that they're getting rid of them and that they're not but opinion Apparently the reviews on there are the lifeblood of Apple of podcasting. So if you have other podcasts review us nicely, please. Yep, we're new. We're trying to
help us poor Android p odds.
We look forward to talking to you again next week and Class dismissed.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai