Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner Sylvia Mendez

The public is invited to sign up for this free talk co-sponsored by the Cal Maritime Rizza Lecture Series and the Cal Maritime Unity Council.

Ms. Mendez is best known for the role she played in ending segregation of Orange County schools. When she was eight year sold, Sylvia was turned away from a California public school that was “for whites only.” Her parents filed a class action suit against four California public school districts and their legal victory, in Mendez v. Westminister marked the end of legal desegregation in California. In fact, the case laid the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education which ended segregation in the entire nation almost a decade later. This was not a coincidence—Sylvia Mendez was represented by Thurgood Marshall, who later argued Brown v. Board before the Supreme Court and used many of the same arguments as in the Mendez case.

Cal Maritime cadet Alejandra Salgado, who serves as vice president of the Latino Club and a member of the campus Unity Council, is one of many students eager to meet Ms. Mendez. “I wish I would have learned about her story sooner. Not only did her parents help out the Mexican families in Orange County but other people of different ethnic backgrounds as well,” Salagado said. “It shows that working together we can make the change we want to see in the world.”

Ms. Mendez will be speaking in the Compass Room on the third floor of the Cal Maritime Dining Center. While admission to the event is free to the community, there will be a $5.00 charge for parking. Parking permits can be obtained from the kiosk in parking lots B & D. To register, please visit by March 17. For more information about Cal Maritime’s Unity Council, visit: For a map and directions to campus, visit

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Date(s) - Tue, Mar 22, 2016
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Cal Maritime - Compass Room (Dining Center)
200 Maritime Academy Dr., Vallejo

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