Image: New desegregation stamp
Usps / Ap
A new 41-cent postage stamp, to be released Friday in Santa Ana, Calif., commemorates the 1946 court decision, Mendez v. Westminster School District, which paved the way for the nation's school desegregation.
updated 9/13/2007 1:17:25 PM ET 2007-09-13T17:17:25

A 1946 court ruling that helped pave the way for the nation’s school desegregation will be commemorated Friday with a new U.S. postage stamp.

“This stamp captures the vision and inspiration of a group of parents who fought the odds to make a difference for all Americans,” Thurgood Marshall, Jr., a member of the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors, said in a statement.

The ruling, Mendez v. Westminster School District, opened the way for Mexican-American students to attend public schools in California.

And Marshall’s father drew on that decision in arguing the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case in 1954 that desegregated schools across the country.

The 41-cent stamp marks the 60th anniversary of the Mendez decision and ceremonies marking the release of the stamp are scheduled for the Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana, Calif.

“My father often spoke of the importance of individuals working together to achieve great things,” the younger Marshall said. “The Mendez, Estrada, Guzman, Palomino and Ramirez families certainly proved the power of a small group to overcome obstacles. Together, they took some of the first courageous steps on our nation’s journey to win equality in education for Americans of every color.”

The families charged that children of Mexican and Latino were victims of unconstitutional discrimination by being forced to attend separate Mexican schools.

A federal court ruled in their favor in February 1946 and a higher court upheld that decision the following year.

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