We're On the Road Again!
A Class Action: Exhibition is
NOW at Santiago Canyon College
A key venture of The Museum of Teaching and Learning has been to create traveling exhibitions. We love to see our creations installed at host institutions to engage, inform, and inspire audiences. Our impact has been upon the learning of students of all ages, and, depending upon the venue, other specialized groups of adults. The pandemic lockdown meant that MOTAL emphasized its articles, artifacts, and podcasts, while exhibitions stayed in storage for almost two and a half years. However, people are once again gathering at public events.
Therefore, we are thrilled to announce that our exhibition, A Class Action: The Grassroots Struggle for School Desegregation in California, is now installed at Santiago Canyon College Lorenzo A. Ramirez Library through December 9, 2022. Thanks to a marvelous collaboration with SCC and the Orange Unified School District, students will be able to learn about Orange County’s influential, historic civil rights case in which the plaintiffs were Mexican-American families, tired of their children being sent to sub-standard “Mexican Schools.” The defendants were school districts in which the boards had established rationales for the segregation of children.
The groundbreaking case, Mendez et al. v. Westminster School District et al., took place in the mid-1940s. It helped establish that separate schools were inherently unequal. Indeed, lessons learned from Mendez et al. showed that a class action case could help abolish school segregation in the entire nation. And so, in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education was won.
The MOTAL exhibition has now traveled to seventeen host institutions and it will be good to have its lessons appreciated again. We are on the road again and people will continue to say things such as “I never knew!” and “I am shocked!” as well as “This actually happened right here?!”
Below you will read some reflections from past engagements of this award-winning exhibition, by docent Pat Pisano Casey. Below is a docent led tour at Santiago Canyon College.
While sharing the Mendez story with a group of fifth grade students, I noted a strong reaction to the unfairness with which Mexicans were treated during the 1940s. These students were appalled by the fact that through no fault of their own, the Mexican students were labeled as dirty, not very smart, and without manners and sent to a school that did not educate them for future opportunities. A number of the students that I met with were bilingual and were shocked to hear that the teachers in the Mexican schools had no appreciation for the ability to speak more than one language and, furthermore discouraged and often punished students who spoke their native language. These students were impressed by the parents of the Mexican students who persisted in efforts to find justice for their children in the school system.
When asked to describe the legacy they wished to leave, these students showed an awareness of present global issues which they would address and try to remediate e.g. pollution, poverty, immigration, homelessness, and racism.
Hopefully these students will make a difference.
In closing, we share this quote:
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you for reading,
Greta Nagel, PhD
MOTAL President and CEO
Visiting hours to experience A Class Action: Exhibition while at Santiago Canyon College - Lorenzo A. Ramirez Library are: Monday - Friday 9:00am - 4:30pm.
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