Janice Munemitsu, author of The Kindness of Color: The Story of Two Families and Mendez, et al. v. Westminster, the 1947 Desegregation of California Public Schools, will discuss her book at the March 10, 2022 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange. The public is welcome.
The Kindness of Color tells the true story of two immigrant families who came to Southern California for better lives, only to face their own separate battles against racism during the 1940s. One family came by land from Mexico and the other by sea from Japan. Little did they expect their paths would meet and lead to justice and desegregation for all the school children of California in Mendez, et. al v. Westminster (1947) – seven years before Brown v. Education (1954).
Despite the discrimination and racism the Mendez and Munemitsu families encountered, there was one thing that helped them persevere. Acts of kindness by friends, neighbors and strangers encouraged their hearts and souls, opened paths to solutions, and created communities of support and kindness. This is the family story behind the case, highlighting the beauty and power of the Kindness of Color that made the landmark case possible. Photos show Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez on the left and Masako and Seima Munemitsu on the right.
The book tells the story of how racism against the Japanese-Americans led to Tad Munemitsu leasing his family farm to Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez during the forced evacuation and internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. When the Mendez family moved to the Westminster farm, the Mendez children were denied entry to the “white” school and forced to go to the “Mexican” school with inferior academics. Racism by the government and school districts denied both families of their constitutional amendment freedoms and rights, but acts of kindness along the way created the path to justice.
Janice Munemitsu is a third-generation Japanese American Sansei. A native of Orange County, California, Janice worked on the family farm from age five through high school. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Biola University.