The Impact of Mendez v. Westminster


In the years following the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the ruling of Judge Paul J. McCormick in Mendez v. Westminster, courageous efforts continued to desegregate Orange County schools and campuses across the nation. Resistance to those efforts was fierce. 

In Orange County, some districts, including Westminster, responded to consistent community pressure and began to desegregate. Other districts in Orange County refused to integrate while the case was being appealed.

In June 1947, Governor Earl Warren signed legislation outlawing segregation in California schools. But the quest for desegregated schools in Orange County and in the state of California was far from over.

During the late 1940s and into the 1950s, members of the Mexican-American community throughout Orange County continued to demonstrate that ordinary people can change history. They challenged discriminatory policies, supported school board candidates who advanced the cause of integration, and gradually gained leadership roles in the community and local government. This increasing voice in education resulted in improved graduation rates for Mexican-American students.

In the face of these challenges, many courageous families and educators worked together to overcome historic discrimination and provide educational opportunities to students of all backgrounds, and many of those served emerged as academic and professional success stories.

Judge Paul J. McCormick

Students in Westminster