Brown v. Board of Education was the landmark Supreme Court case that ended racial segregation in schools in 1954. But it wasn’t the first to take on the issue. Eight years earlier, in 1946, a group of Mexican American families in California won the very first federal court case ruling that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional.
Unlike the segregation of African Americans in the “Jim Crow” South, segregation of Mexican Americans in California wasn’t dictated by law. But starting in the 1920s, when waves of Mexican laborers arrived to work the citrus groves of Southern California, California communities began to enforce their own de facto segregation.