Latino youth do not share a single identity or experience. They di er enormously by race, country of origin, languages spoken, cultural traditions, immigration status, and more. A teen who identi es as Black, of Dominican descent, bilingual in Spanish and English,
and third-generation American has a vastly di erent identity and life experience than one who identi es as Latino, recently immigrated from Mexico, and who speaks Mixteco. Yet, both these young people are Latino students in California’s schools and neighborhoods. And they are bound by a collective struggle to achieve a high-quality education that prepares them for good jobs and a rich, ful lling life.￼
Historically, our state and nation have treated this group of young people as a monolithic bloc, without recognizing the wide diversity of individuals within it. As a group, Latino students have been systemically denied equal opportunities in our communities and schools. When California became a state in 1850, Mexican Californians were treated as foreigners and denied access to education. Decades of segregation, political and economic oppression, and discrimination set the stage for Latino activists to signi cantly shape the Civil Rights Movements of the mid-20th century. Unfortunately, their stories and histories are often missing from history lessons and re ections on this era. For example, the lesser known Mendez v. Westminster struck down school segregation in California in 1947 and in uenced the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case that followed seven years later. (See policy timeline on p. 6-7.) Today, our Latino youth still experience forms of discrimination, and our schools are more segregated than in 1947. Yet, Latino individuals are also recognized as a collective political and economic force that wields enormous in uence on our country’s future and prosperity.