Things That Matter

The Significance Behind Today’s Google Doodle of Puerto Rican Activist Felicitas Mendez

Today’s Google Doodle is an eye catching image: an illustration of a smiling brown-skinned woman. She watches children of all colors go into a sun-drenched school, palm trees lining the walkways. A man in a suit escorts two of the brown-skinned children into the building.

The Doodle is of Puerto Rican activist Felicitas Mendez, a woman instrumental in the fight against school segregation between whites and Latinos in the 1940s.

Born in the town of Juncos in Puerto Rico, Mendez moved to the mainland United States when she was 10-years-old. It was here that she experienced her first taste of American racism and inequality.

Because of their mixed-race Puerto Rican heritage, Mendez (née Gómez) and her family were racialized as “Black” by white Americans, and therefore subject to anti-Black discrimination. But when her and her family moved to Southern California to work the fields, she was racialized as “Mexican” and discriminated against by anti-Hispanic racists.

Felicitas Mendez and her husband, Gonzalo Mendez, were the key figures behind the landmark anti-segregation case, Mendez vs. Westminster.

Mendez vs. Westminster was a California civil rights desegregation case which successfully ended the segregation between Latino and white students in the state of California.

As the story goes, the Mendez family moved from the integrated town of Santa Ana, California to Westminster, California, where they were shocked to discover the students were divided into “white” and “Mexican” schools. Since the doctrine of “separate but equal” schooling was a myth, Mexican schools received far less government funding and gave inferior education.

The school for Mexican students was so bad, that Mendez’s daughter Sylvia (an activist in her own right) later described it as a pair of wooden shacks on a dirt lot, surrounded by an electric fence.

school segregation
via Getty Images

Instead of going along with Westminster school district’s policy of segregation, Felicitas Mendez and her husband decided instead to challenge their policy.

In 1945, on behalf of roughly 5,000 Hispanic-American school-aged students, Mendez and her husband filed a lawsuit against Westminster School District of Orange County. And they ended up winning.

The Westminster school-board appealed, but to no avail. In 1947, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling in favor of the Mendezes.

This lawsuit, Mendez v. Westminster, would eventually become the spark that ignited the larger fight against school segregation throughout the nation. Shortly after the win, then-California Governor Earl Warren ordered all California public schools other public spaces to desegregate as well.

Mendez’s experience as being labeled as both Black and Mexican at various points in her life made her an active anti-racist, sensitive to the plight of people and children of all colors.

“We had to do it. Our children, all of our children, brown, black,
and white, must have the opportunity to be whatever they want to be, and education gives them that opportunity,” she said in a 1998 interview.

As today’s Google Doodle illustrator Emily Barrera says: “When I see Felicitas, I see a strong woman, a fighter, a mother, a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement, fighting for the same rights as her own family and heritage.” And that is what she was. A brave activist, yes. A fighter, yes. But above all, a loving mother who wanted a better future for her children.

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These Virtual Events Will Let You Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month From The Comfort Of Home

Culture

These Virtual Events Will Let You Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month From The Comfort Of Home

Martin do Nascimento / Getty Images

This year’s celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month come at an increasingly troublesome time. And for many of us, it’s hard to find the strength or energy to find something to celebrate.

At this time last year, a slew of federal immigration policies that brought fear and confusion to the Hispanic community had been announced. It seemed vital at the time to spotlight many of the positive contributions of the nation’s Hispanic community.

Today, we’re in a pandemic and a national reckoning on racial injustice is afoot. We must now dig even deeper to find the way forward. Local traditions, especially those that bolster cultural understanding and embrace our city’s diversity, can play larger, more meaningful roles this year if we all take time to honor the people and history behind them.

Don’t miss the chance to look beyond the festive atmosphere to truly connect with others in the community who might also be feeling a bit more introspective these days.

Though you may not be able to partake in person, you don’t have to miss out on the celebration. You can read books by Latino Authors, stream Latino movies and shows, and listen to music by Latino artists for starters. You can also donate to organizations dedicated to causes within the community. Organizations like RAICES, the Latino Equality Alliance, and the Latino Community Foundation are all great places to support. Then, mark your calendar for some of these online events being hosted in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Latin Fashion Week

From Sept. 16 until Sep 22., Latin Fashion Week Colorado is hosting a digital event every night. Each night will feature one of 35 designers and artists from around the world. See the full line-up here.

Cooking Class With Eva Longoria

In partnership with Airbnb, Eva Longoria is hosting a Zoom cooking class in honor of Latinx Heritage Month. To try and snag a spot, you’ll want to register on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. PT. The event costs $103 per person and all proceeds will benefit the Eva Longoria Foundation.

Listen To Latin American Classical Music Performed Live

Florida’s Palm Beach County Library is holding series of online events from dance performances to cooking classes to story hours for kids. On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Violist David Pedraza will be performing classical music by Latin American composers. Register for the event here.

Salsa & Latin Dance Classes

Sure the salsa class might be for those over 50 (since it’s being hosted by AARP) but what a great way to get your parents or abuelos in on the celebrations. But for those of us under 50, Dallas College also has a series of Latin dance classes being held online throughout Latinx Heritage Month. For more information, check out Dallas College’s calendar of events

Take Part In An AfroLatinidad Panel

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to make sure that all of us are included. That’s why this panel is so exciting!

On Thursday, Oct. 1, Illinois’ College of Lake County is hosting an Afro-Latino Panel via Zoom Meeting. Panelist will share their experience being Afro-Latinos, an often-overlooked demographic within the Latinx community. See more about the event here.

From Mi Cocina to Your Cocina: A Cooking Class

Arizona State University is hosting all sorts of interesting virtual events this year to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. One of those events is a cooking class being held online on Friday, Sept. 18. You can register here.

Attend An Event With The Congressional Hispanic Caucus

From September 14-18, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is hosting an online conference: the CHCI 2020 Leadership Conference, meant to help develop the next generation of Latino leaders.

Shortly after the Conference comes the The 43rd Annual Awards Gala, coming Sept. 21, 2020. Click here for more details about this event. 

Get Set And Get Ready To Vote

Voting may look different this year, but that doesn’t change the power of your voice. To provide some clarity, UnidosUS is hosting the town hall “Vote 2020: Get Ready, Get Set” to educate and prepare voters with what they need to know to cast their ballot in November. Voting experts will talk through your voting options and help you make a voting plan that best suits your needs.

Join us virtually on Monday, September 21 at 6 p.m. EST. 

Join The US Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce National Conference

At the end of September (Sept 27-29), the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend their 2020 National Conference.

They’re calling it the virtual business event of the year and it’s sure to have lots of interesting networking and learning opportunities.

Click here for more information

Attend Prospanica – The Leading Hispanic Networking Event

From October 12-16, you can join in on the Prospanica Conference and Career Expo – completely virtual.

The 2020 Prospanica Virtual Conference and Career Expo, “Generacion Lider,” will bring together a powerful cohort of diversity-minded corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations and universities looking to attract top Hispanic talent. 

Designed to educate, inspire, and connect, Prospanica’s one-of-a-kind conference allows attendees to plug into a national leadership community invested in their long-term success.

Click here for more information. 

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Get Ready! Bad Bunny Set To Perform Historic Online Concert To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Entertainment

Get Ready! Bad Bunny Set To Perform Historic Online Concert To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Notice to all Bad Bunny fans! This is not a drill! The reggaetonero is officially back on stage with an historic concert planned for this weekend (September 20).

In recent weeks, Bad Bunny has been silent on social media. “Goodbye, I’m gone,” he said to his fans on May 19, telling them that he wanted to take a break after the release of his album YHLQMDLG last February, then again after his surprise drop of Las que no iban a salir.

But now the singer appears to be gradually making his musical comeback. Just a few weeks ago, San Benito published an unreleased track in which he sends a message to those who criticized him for seemingly going quiet with so much going on in the world. Confident that there are bigger problems in the world, El Conejo Malo sings, “They are fighting because they gave me the title of composer of the year but not for what really matters.”

Bad Bunny will be taking the stage for a free concert this Sunday!

Credit: Uforia / Univision

In an announcement, Uforia, The Home of Latin Music, said that they’d be conducting exclusive live stream performances once a month until the end of the year under the banner of Uforia Live. And Bad Bunny is the first artist to launch the series!

“We are extremely happy to celebrate the richness of Latin culture during Hispanic Heritage Month with this one-of-a-kind live broadcast experience,” said Univision Radio President Jesus Lara.

“We are proud to present Bad Bunny’s artistry, which has had such a profound impact on our culture and the music industry in general,” he continued.

“Bad Bunny is one of the most popular artists in the world. He constantly manages to break international barriers of language and stereotypes, becoming a global icon of culture and entertainment.”

For all you San Benito fans, the concert will take place on September 20, is completely free, and will be available to watch on Bad Bunny’s YouTube channel, Twitch, and the Uforia app. Stay tuned because Uforia will soon announce the details on upcoming dates and artists.

Although Coronavirus has had a major impact on the music industry, Bad Bunny has found ways to keep himself plenty busy.

Credit: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Despite spending most of the year in quarantine in his native Puerto Rico, Bad Bunny has been extremely busy. From gracing magazine covers and making history in the process to surprise releasing an entire album, Bad Bunny has kept his fans on their toes.

The reggaetonero was also set to perform two sold-out shows on October 30-31 at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn stadium, but they’ve been canceled in the wake of Covid-19. So this will be the first chance for San Benito fans to witness live renditions from his record-breaking 2020 album YHLQMDLG, and, if we’re lucky, from his follow-up surprise album Las Que No Iban a Salir.

The “Yo Perrea Sola” singer also collaborated with Dua Lipa, J Balvin, and Tainy on a hit single, “Un Día (One Day)”. He’s also set to be recognized with the Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision in recognition for his impact as an artist and activist.

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