FDNSC Students Attend Ms Mendez’s “Master Class” at UNCA

Monday, April 8, was a Teacher Conference Day and a day off for students; but 11 of our 8th graders spent the day ON volunteering and learning with civil rights activist, Sylvia Mendez. Dr. Tiece Ruffin of UNCA invited Delany 8th grade students to volunteer and attend a special “Master Class” by Ms. Mendez as part of UNCA’s commemorative events honoring the 65th Anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Dr. Ruffin, an organizer of the Anniversary events, also donated 10 copies of the text, Mendez v. Westminster: School Desegregation and Mexican-American Rights, to the school for future book study opportunities.

Sylvia Mendez was nine years old when her family joined with four other Latinx families to challenge school segregation in California, eight years before the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Governor Earl Warren signed legislation ending segregation in California and later was Chief Justice when the Brown case came to the Supreme Court. Ms. Mendez received Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama on behalf of her family in 2011 and she continues to travel around the country telling the lesser-known story of school desegregation in California.

Delany students prepared for the visit by learning about both the Mendez and Brown decisions before the event in Ms. Brady’s class. On the morning of the event, students helped set up, served as ushers and greeters, and assisted with reading previously submitted questions to Ms. Mendez. They then enjoyed a lunch at the campus cafeteria when their work was complete. Thank you to Sylvia Mendez, Dr. Tiece Ruffin, the Africana Studies & Education Departments, and UNCA for this great learning experience!

Learn more about Ms. Mendez and the Mendez vs. Westminster case here.

Read about the connection between the Mendez and Brown decisions here.