I was privileged on Feb. 18 to attend a celebration of how our system works, particularly when good people use it for the right purpose. Sometimes it takes time and patience, but eventually we get it right. The celebration took place at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, and featured Sylvia Mendez. When she was 8 years old, Sylvia, along with her brothers, Gonzalo and Jerome, was refused admission to an all-white public school here in Orange County.
Sylvia had been born in Santa Ana, and was living there with her family while they rented a farm from a Japanese-American family that had been sent to an internment camp during World War II. But when her aunt took the three children to the all-white school, she was told she could enroll her own children because they were light-skinned, but Sylvia and her brothers would not qualify because they were Mexican.