Orange Unified School District Finally Honoring Lorenzo Ramirez, Local Desegregation Icon

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Tonight, the Orange Unified School District is taking an extraordinary step, one anathema to the Orange County mind: admitting that our discriminatory present past was wrong and honoring those brave souls who fought those wrongs only to get disappeared by local historians.

The person in question is Lorenzo Ramirez, who sued the then-El Modeno School District (now part of Orange Unified) as part of the landmark Mendez, et al. v. Westminster, et al. case in the 1940s for denying his children the right to attend an integrated school. Ramirez's story became a footnote even in Orange County, where nearly all the attention has been put on the Mendez family at the expense of the other four families who sued school districts--but Orange Unified is taking baby steps to right that wrong.

The conservative board is issuing a proclamation honoring Lorenzo; his wife, Josefina (who's still feisty even in her 90s); and their children for fighting for "educational equity for all of our nation's children." The proclamation gives a brief summary of Ramirez's life and cites it as an "inspiration to students, parents, educators and other community members" because the Ramirezes stood "up for American ideals" and gave a "significant and lasting contribution to the quality of education in Orange, California, and across the nation," one "deserv[ing of] our gratitude." Kudos to the board for referring to the case by its proper name instead of the shorthand that has unfortunately taken hold in popular discourse.

The Ramirez family will be in attendance tonight, along with supporters. And rumor has it that the board is at least considering renaming a school after Lorenzo. And so our Sunkist memories finally fade into the past . . .

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