Here is the story of Roberto Alvarez, whose court battle against racism and school segregation in Lemon Grove, CA, is considered the first time an immigrant community used the courts to successfully fight injustice.
Roberto Alvarez's world changed the day he could no longer attend Lemon Grove Grammar School in the small, rural community where he lived near San Diego, California. He and the other Mexican American students were told they had to go to a new, separate school. A school just for them. A school where they would not hold back the other students. But Roberto and the other students and their families believed the new school's real purpose was to segregate, to separate. They didn't think that was right, or just, or legal. This historical fiction picture book by Sibert award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner and Pura Belpré award-winning illustrator Maya Gonzalez follows Roberto and the other immigrant families on their journey in 1931 as they battle against separation and prejudice in one of America's landmark segregation cases.
Dense paragraphs of small text outline the tale of Roberto Alvarez, a California-born student of Mexican heritage who, along with his Mexican and Mexican American peers, was instructed to attend a school separate from white students in 1930s California, resulting in the landmark case Roberto Alvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District, the first court decision successfully desegregating schools. Brimner outlines Alvarez and his community's fight for equal education in accessible prose: "The new school was not meant to help their students learn the English language and American customs, as the school board and newspapers claimed. The only thing that determined which of Lemon Grove's two schools a youngster was to attend was the color of the child's skin." Gonzalez's acrylic paintings on archival paper, offering thickly outlined figures of varying age and skin tone rendered in a vivid mural-like style, set this biography apart. Back matter includes an author's note with photographs, sources, source notes, acknowledgments, and picture credits. Ages 7 10.