Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh

Recommended Grades: 5-8

When Sylvia Mendez and her family moved to a new town in California, she was excited to attend her neighborhood school.  But, she was told she had to go to the Mexican school instead.  Sylvia didn’t understand why – she was an American citizen who spoke perfect English.  This is the story of segregated schools in California and one family’s  fight to end it. 

Separate is Never EqualLesson Idea: Mentor Text: Civil Rights: Read aloud Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation as part of a unit on civil rights.  Segregation based on race was common throughout the United States in the 1940s and much of what we know about segregation comes from our knowledge of segregation in the southern states.  In actuality, The Mendez v. Westminster School District case paved the way for the desegregation of schools in America.  The landmark case Brown v. Board of Education desegregated schools in the entire country, seven years after the Mendez victory.

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