Bergman Memorial Lecture: Seeking Equality in Our Schools-Mendez v. Westminster

This event occurred in the past

Bergman Memorial Lecture: Seeking Equality in Our Schools-Mendez v. Westminster

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Thursday, February 15, 2018 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.


Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Theatre & Rotunda

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110





USD School of Law is holding a reception and panel discussion in honor of Mendez v. Westminster - a 1947 federal court case that challenged Mexican remedial schools in Orange County, California. In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in an en banc decision, held that the forced segregation of Mexican American students was unconstitutional and unlawful.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled, "The equal protection of the laws pertaining to the public school system in California is not provided by furnishing in separate schools the same technical facilities, textbooks and courses of instruction to children of Mexican ancestry that are available to the other public school children regardless of their ancestry. A paramount requisite in the American system of public education is social equality. It must be open to all children by unified school association regardless of lineage." It was the first ruling in the U.S. in favor of school desegregation. 

Reception & Panel

5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Hosted hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Mendez v. Westminster Panel Discussion

This event is open to the public, USD faculty/adminstrators, and all undergraduate, graduate, and law students.


Sandra Robbie

  • Writer/Producer of Emmy-winning documentary
    Mendez v. Westminster: For All the Children/Para Todos los Ninos
  • Founder/Director, Mendez Museum Without Walls


Hon. Frederick P. Aguirre (Ret.)
Orange County Superior Court

Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel
U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

Robert C. Fellmeth
Price Professor of Public Interest Law
Executive Director, Center for Public Interest Law
USD School of Law

Joi Spencer
Associate Dean and Professor
USD School of Leadership and Education Sciences

Directions & Parking Information

All vehicles parked on campus are required to display a valid permit Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. USD School of Law’s Office of Alumni Relations is hosting your parking and individuals who register will receive an email with validation instructions. The general instructions are as follows:


  • Enter campus from the west entrance (Marian Way)
  • Turn left at the kiosk guard station into the West Parking Structure
  • You may park in any unreserved space
  • Follow parking validation instructions sent by email


  • A tram runs from the West Parking Structure to IPJ every 10-15 minutes
  • IPJ is a .03 mile uphill walk from the West Parking Structure and takes approximately 7 minutes

Note: There is a men’s basketball game between University of San Diego and University of the Pacific being played at USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion at 7:00 p.m. that will impact vehicles entering and exiting campus. 

MCLE: Materials & Suggested Readings

USD School of Law is a State Bar of California-approved provider of MCLE credit and certifies that this activity is approved for 1 hour of general credit.

Mendez v. Westminster Court Documents
Mendez v. Westminster Petitioner's Opening Brief

Strum, Mendez v. Westminster: School Desegregation and Mexican-American Rights, University Press of Kansas (2010).

Mendez v. Westminster School Dist., 64 F.Supp. 544 (S.D. Cal. 1946).
Westminster School Dist. v. Mendez, 161 F.2d 774 (9th Cir. 1947).

Aguirre, "Mendez v. Westminster: A Living History" 2014 Mich. St. L. Rev. 401 (2014).

Aguirre, "Mendez v. Westminster: How It Affected Brown v. Board of Education" 4 J. Hisp. Higher Educ. 321 (2005).

Arriola, "Knocking on the Schoolhouse Door: Mendez v. Westminster: Equal Protection, Public Education and Mexican Americans in the 1940's" 8 La Raza L.J. 166 (1995).

Gonzalez, "Segregation of Mexican Children in a Southern California City: The Legacy of Expansionism and the American Southwest" 16 W. Hist. Q. 55 (1985).

Saenz, "Mendez and the Legacy of Brown: A Latino Civil Rights Lawyer's Assessment" 11 Asian L.J. 276 (2004).

Read articles and cases

Bergman Memorial Lecture on Women, Children and Human Rights

The Jane Ellen Bergman Memorial Lecture Series on Women, Children and Human Rights is the result of a from Dr. Barbara Yates, a longtime professor at the University of Illinois and a friend of the late Bergman. According to Dr. Yates, Bergman was “an ordinary citizen who chose to devote her professional life to public service. As a nursing administrator, public health educator, and family therapist, she developed an abiding interest in the human rights of common people, especially the plight of women and children, in a rapidly changing world.” This series is a lasting tribute to Bergman and an opportunity for USD students, faculty and staff, as well as interested members of the community, to hear distinguished lecturers speak about issues concerning women, children and human rights.

USD School of Law's Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) is California’s premiere academic, research, and advocacy organization seeking to improve the lives of children and youth, with special emphasis on improving the child protection and foster care systems and enhancing resources that are available to youth aging out of foster care. CAI seeks to leverage change for children and youth through impact litigation, regulatory and legislative advocacy, and public education.

Donate to CAI



Mendez v. Westminster

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