Mendez Tribute Monument Park is officially open to visitors.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, the City of Westminster formally debuted a new quarter-acre public space honoring the landmark Mendez v. Westminster case, which put an end to forced segregation in California’s public schools and laid the foundation for the U.S. Supreme Court’s sweeping Brown v. Board decision.
A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony marked the completion of the five-year project, which represented a collaboration between the city and OCDE. On hand for the celebration were Westminster officials, community leaders, students, local residents and guest dignitaries, including Sylvia Mendez, a central figure to the civil rights case who has championed public awareness.
“I have to tell you how happy I am today,” she said. “Such a big honor. It’s a big thrill. We are here today to thank everyone for all you have done to make this park, this beautiful park. Thank you so much.”
Watch the video above to see highlights of the grand opening festivities.
Developed in partnership with OCDE, Mendez Tribute Monument Park is located at 7371 Westminster Blvd. The space prominently displays statues of Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, who, along with other local parents, successfully challenged school segregation policies in the 1940s. Surrounding their figures are interpretive panels, a large textbook monument and statues of a pair of children representing students impacted by the case.
Landscape architects with the firm MIG, Inc. designed the park, which also incorporates interactive technologies, including augmented reality visuals. The statues were crafted by renowned artist and sculptor Ignacio Gomez. OCDE educators contributed content for the panels, along with accompanying lesson plans and activities for teachers.
“The case of Mendez v. Westminster broke new ground not just for Orange County but for our entire nation thanks to families who wanted nothing more than a quality education for their children,” Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares said. “Now and forever, this park and monument will serve as a space to gather behind our shared values, to reflect on a watershed moment in our history, and to learn about the local families who made it possible.”
For more information on Mendez Tribute Monument Park, and to access lesson plans and activities from OCDE, visit www.mendezpark.org.