In crude, ironic fashion, Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070 reached its two-year anniversary on April 23, the same day Cesar Chavez passed away 19 years ago. April also marked the 65th anniversary of the Mendez vs. Westminster case, which emerged in 1945 after the Mendez family and four other Mexican American families from southern California filed a lawsuit against their school districts for denying their children enrollment in white schools. The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court on Mendez declared that the segregation of children of Mexican ancestry from white schools was a violation of equal protection laws. It was the first case in the nation to argue against and overcome “the separate but equal” doctrine. Seven years later, Thurgood Marshall would draw on the arguments made during Mendez v. Westminster (on which he collaborated with Mendez attorney David Marcus) to bolster his own case in front of the U.S Supreme Court for Brown v. Board of Education.

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