Hispanic Heritage Month is coming to a close and Google is giving Roberto Clemente a well-deserved shout out. Clemente died 45 years ago in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 while taking aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old when he died. The baseball star would have been 84 years old this year.
Roberto Clemente is being honored in today’s Google Doodle.
The illustrator of the Google Doodle is Peruvian American artist Roxie Vizcarra. According to Google, Clemente is quoted as saying, “I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give.” Vizcarra seems to have added this information to the doodle with the heart shaped laces work on the baseball in the top left corner.
Puerto Ricans all over are celebrating the Google Doodle for sharing Puerto Rican history.
Rosie Perez pretty much sums up how all the Boricuas are feeling about this Google Doodle. Clemente was inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame just a few months after his tragic death. He was the first Latino indcuted into the MLB Hall of Fame.
His time on the field as a Puerto Rican baseball star gives a lot of Puerto Ricans a sense of national pride.
Representation is one of the most important things people can experience. Seeing people who look like you thriving in their careers and professions is something that can lift up whole communities. This is the legacy that Clemente has left behind within the Puerto Rican and Afro-Latino communities.
The most common sentiment you’ll find around this Google Doodle is a love and appreciation for Clemente’s illustrated shout out.
Puerto Ricans are taught about pride from birth. My pride went supersonic the day I discovered Roberto Clemente. Love this Google Doodle and how the flag follows the trajectory of the ball Clemente no doubt crushed. ???????? #orgullosopic.twitter.com/myNPxnFycK
Clemente broke many barriers in baseball for Latinos and continues to be a source of inspiration and pride in the Latino and Puerto Rican communities. This illustration is one of the greatest ways to end a month dedicated to celebrating and uplifting the Latino community. ¡Wepa!
To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, Google featured Puerto Rican Civil Rights pioneer Felicitas Mendez as today’s Google Doodle. Here’s why it’s important:
Felicitas Mendez left her mark on American history after suing the school district in California that denied her children from enrolling in classes. This precedent helped end segregation in California and the United States seven years later.
Felicitas was born Felicitas Gomez Martinez on February 5, 1916 in Juncos, Puerto Rico. During her preteen years, she moved with her family to the United States where she eventually settled in California’s Orange County. In 1935, she married Mexican immigrant and naturalized American citizen Gonzalo Mendez, a fellow farm worker who worked alongside her family. The couple opened a neighborhood cafe named La Prieta and managed their land in small-town Westminster.
The couple had three children, Sylvia, Gonzalo Jr. and Jerome Mendez who all attended Hoover Elementary.
This school, in the middle of a small Mexican neighborhood, was designated for Mexicans only and those with a Spanish surname.
Felicitas’s daughter, Silvia Mendez, recalled the school had desks and books that were falling apart, as well as flies everywhere, and an electric fence separating the school from a cow pasture.
However, the cleaner all-whites school, 17th Street Elementary, was located only a mile away. The issue was, California school districts implemented a very strict segregation regulation between Latinos and whites in schools.
Regardless of segregation laws, Felicitas and her husband Gonzalo wanted to enroll their children at 17th Street Elementary but were denied because their children were of Mexican-Puerto Rican descent and had brown skin.
Felicitas’ nieces and nephews, who were lighter skinned and had the last name Vidaurri (a French surname), were accepted into 17th Street Elementary. Viduarri demanded both her own children and the Mendez children be accepted altogether; however, 17th Elementary did not budge.
Unwilling to accept this injustice and racist discrimination, Felicitas and Gonzalo became determined to change this and they geared up to create permanent change.
Their organizational efforts were met with obstacles and little support at first. However, on March 2, 1945, the couple was able to obtain four other Mexican parents to file a prominent lawsuit against the county and school district demanding the end of segregated schools between Latinos and white students. Meanwhile, Felicitas worked diligently to manage the Mendez farm in order to bring in profits to help subsidize the lawsuit.
The Jewish attorney representing the Mendez family, David Marcus, argued that the segregation was a violation of the equal protection law clause of the Fourteenth Amendment which prohibits states from denying “any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
On February 18, 1946, Judge Paul J. McCormick of the federal district court ruled in favor of the Mendez family. However, the school district appealed.
Some Orange County schools started to desegregate while other schools refused.
Still, other schools forced Mexican students to continually take IQ tests to justify segregation and educational inferiority.
Several organizations like the ACLU, American Jewish Congress, Japanese American Citizens League, NAACP, and the famous Thurgood Marshall wrote an amicus curiae to the court in support of the Mendez family fighting for cultural equality.
Sylvia Mendez recalled what her mother told her the day she came home crying from her first day at an all-white school:
“Don’t you know what we were fighting? We weren’t fighting so you could go to that beautiful white school. We were fighting because you’re equal to that white boy,” said Felicitas.
A year later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in favor of the Mendez and other Mexican families.
Due to the upholding by the federal court, California Governor Earl Warren signed legislation making California the first state to desegregate schools.
Seven years later, this same ruling was what provided attorney Thurgood Marshall the grounds in the historical Brown v. Board of Education which ruled segregation in schools unconstitutional nationwide.
The Mendez family created a legacy that spread throughout California and the nation.
On September 9, 2009, a local school in Boyle Heights opened the “Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center.” Mendez’s daughter, Sylvia Mendez, was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
“No one knows about Mendez vs. Westminster, how five families fought to end segregation in California. When we all decided to fight, it was not only for you but for all the children. It was that day that I promised my mother I would make sure everyone knew about the fight and Mendez vs Westminster. It became my legacy!”
There is still a lot that we do not know about Covid-19 and the longterm effects of the virus. Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is learning the hard way how the virus attacks the body after a patient is “cured.”
The baseball world was excited to welcome Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez back.
As the MLB keeps pushing to salvage their Covid-postponed season restart, the virus has shown itself in a different way. After half of the Miami Marlins team tested positive for the virus, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox is suffering from health issues because of Covid.
Rodriguez is suffering from myocarditis, a heart condition.
The baseball player is suffering from a heart condition that is directly tied to his Covid-19 illness. While Rodriguez survived Covid-19, the heart condition is proof that there is so much more to know about what this virus does. Despite overcoming Covid, Rodriguez is still suffering from the effects of this unknown virus.
The lingering health effect is a reminder of the importance of not contracting the virus.
“That’s the most important part of your body,” Rodriguez told WEEI. “The first time I hear, I was kind of scared a little. Now that I know what it is, I’m still scared, but now I know exactly what it is. I just talk to my mom, talk to my wife, let them know what I have, and now I’ve got to take the rest.”
There is more to Covid-19 than the immediate death and recovery rates.
Health experts and doctors have been warning people about the unknown effects of Covid-19. Rodriguez’s ongoing battle with Covid-19 is a hard reminder that not even the most in shape and athletic people are immune from the devastating effects of the virus. Be safe. Be careful.