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Called the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) for Mexican Americans and other Latinos in California, Mendez v. Westminster School District (1947) stands out as the case that ended legally sanctioned segregation for Mexican American students. Mendez was a test case in which social science data were introduced as evidence showing how Mexican American children developed an inferiority complex caused by racial segregation in schools. At the same time, Mendez is additionally noteworthy because it helped to pave the way for the use of a similar line of reasoning in Brown.

In a touch of irony, the then-governor of California and later chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who authored the unanimous opinion in Brown, Earl Warren, took Mendez and used it to ...

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