Before Brown: Mendez desegregation story in childrens book

Jun 17, 2014

Seven years before the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that outlawed school segregation, the State of California wrestled with the question in the Mendez v. Westminster case.  Author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story the eyes of a child in Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation.

"I was immediately fascinated by the Mendez case.  In some of my books, I try to talk about social justice," said Tonatiuh, interviewed from his native Mexico.

His style is a blend of the ancient and modern multi media.  "I'm very much inspired by pre-Columbian art, especially Mixtec artwork with these great 14th century codecs."  He also used photographs of hair and different materials in a photoshop technique to create his geometric and two-dimensional images.  

Music on this feature by Lila Downs, "La Nina," from the CD Border (Le Linea) and  from the band Duetode Los Hermanos Rios, "Medio Xhiga," from the CD Putamayo Presents Mexico.