Google has really been representing for the Latino community with their Google Doodle’s lately. They have honored Gabriel García Márquez, Richard Colón and Yma Sumac. These doodles are telling the history of Latinos in film, music, science, technology, and now astronomy. The latest Google Doodle is honoring the late Mexican pioneer Guillermo Haro who even has specific formation named after him. Here’s a little bit about the man on today’s Google Doodle.
Guillermo Haro is today’s Google Doodle honoree. He was a pivotal part of our ongoing quest to figure out space.
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!”
Few artists have reached the level of fame as Frida Kahlo. The Mexican painter is more than an artist. Kahlo is a point of cultural pride that transcends nationality within the Latino community and unites Latino art lovers in their le of Latin American art. Now, Google, in the time of self-isolation, is giving everyone a chance to learn about the iconic painter.
Google wants to give everyone a chance to learn about Frida Kahlo with its online “Faces of Frida” exhibit.
Anyone who visits the “Face of Frida” exhibit can browse through the artist’s incredible paintings. Kahlo is one of the most influential artists the world has ever known. Her fame and people’s admiration continue to this day with tributes still appearing around the world for the Mexican artist.
Viewers can decide which museum’s Frida Kahlo collection they want to explore.
The exhibit is made possible by 32 museums from around the world collaborating to show Frida Kahlo’s impressive and iconic works of art. Museums across four continents shared Kahlo piece from their exhibits with Google to create an exhibit showing more than 800 paintings. Some of the museums include Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the United States, Nagoya City Art Museum in Japan, Fundación MAPFRE in Spain, and Buenos Aires Graffiti in Argentina.
The interactive exhibit is perfect for all Frida Kahlo and art lovers alike. While 3.4 billion people in the world are on lockdown orders, the incredible virtual exhibit of Kahlo’s work gives people a chance to see works of art they haven’t been able to visit yet.
The exhibit is easy to navigate and some of Kahlo’s works have been collected into their own themed galleries.
Kahlo is most famous for using her own life as the inspiration for her works of art. The artist often played with the themes of pain and death due to her own near-death experiences. Her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera influenced Kahlo’s work depending on where they were in their relationship. The couple was notorious for taking extra-marital lovers throughout their marriage.
“Faces of Frida” also offers art fans a chance to learn about Kahlo through editorial features.
Kahlo was one of the most revolutionary women in the world. She moved through space unimpeded by society’s views on her gender and place in society. She was politically engaged and held onto a list of values that many still argue over today. Namely, there have been discussions and think pieces about the sudden commercialized usage of Kahlo’s image and what she might have to say about it. As someone who was opposed to capitalism, it seems safe to say she might not have appreciated herself being used for capitalistic gains.