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Connections: Civil Rights Icon Sylvia Mendez

Jun 7, 2016

In 1943, students of Mexican descent were required to enroll in separate schools from white children. In 1944, when Sylvia Mendez was in third grade, she and her brothers were denied access to 17th Street School, the “white school,” near their Orange County home. They were told they were “too dark.” Her lighter-skinned cousins were told they would be allowed to attend. Sylvia was thrust into the civil rights movement, and has become an iconic figure.

A new play called Separate Is Never Equal is based on the book that tells her story, and it will be performed in Rochester this weekend. We talk to Sylvia, as part of our panel:

  • Sylvia Mendez, civil rights activist
  • Annette Ramos, founder and executive director of the Rochester Latino Theatre Company, and co-writer of Separate Is Never Equal
  • Don Bartalo, director and co-writer of Separate Is Never Equal
  • Jose Cruz, member of the Rochester City School Board