Meet Sylvia Mendez

March 9, 2021

Sylvia Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2011. Mendez was honored for her lifelong quest for equality and for making it her “life mission to spread a message of tolerance and opportunity to children of all backgrounds and all walks of life.” 



When Mendez was eight she was denied admission to Westminster School in Orange County California. Her parents were the named plaintiffs in a class action suit against the school districts in the county that forced Latino children to attend segregated schools. Following the successful suit, California became the first state to end school segregation.