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Schools not war: Mendez High School 10th year anniversary celebration

By staff |
October 16, 2019
Carlos Montes, Eloisa Galindo with Felicitas Mendez daughter in parade.
Carlos Montes, Eloisa Galindo with Felicitas Mendez daughter in parade. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Los Angeles, CA - A joyous parade, block party and festival were held October 12 in Boyle Heights to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the opening of Mendez High School. The parade down First Street with beautiful vintage lowriders, featured Chicano writer Luis Rodriguez, author of Always Running; the daughter of Felicitas Mendez; Eloisa Galindo of Eastside Padres Contra la Privatización; Carlos Montes of Centro CSO; Jose Huizar of Council District 14 and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board member Monica Garcia.

In March 2003, Centro CSO, with local parents, launched their “Schools Not Wars” campaign to demand the building of a new high school in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. The campaign sought to relieve the overcrowding at Roosevelt and Garfield high schools, oppose the war on Iraq, and kick out military recruiters off campuses. Military recruiters were put in check, and awareness in opposition to the invasion of Iraq was raised. After years of protests, surveys, studies and attending many LAUSD meetings, a site was selected at First and Mission streets.

This site at First and Mission became Mendez Hight School in 2009. Built near the two housing projects, the school was named after the famous school desegregation lawsuit Mendez v. Westminster of 1946. Eight years before the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, Mexican Americans in Orange County, California won a class action lawsuit to dismantle the segregated school system that existed there.

The tenth anniversary celebration continued at Mariachi Plaza. Carlos Montes pointed out the historical significance of the fight for “schools not wars” and the recent victory to stop the mega KIPP Promesa charter school. Eloisa Galindo also spoke, denouncing the privatization attack on public education that is supported by corrupt politicians who get money from the charter school industry.

Also in the parade were the Mendez High School marching band, cheer squad and football team. The community came out to cheer and applaud the parade as it passed heading to Mariachi Plaza for the block party and festival. Since its opening, the school has been educationally successful, and the festival featured schools visual and performing arts, athletic and AP programs. Games and face-painting made for a fun event.

Join Centro CSO: Community Service Organization at our monthly meetings held the third Wednesday of the month, 6 p.m. at Benjamin Franklin Public Library.