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LEMON GROVE SCHOOL DISTRICT DEDICATES AUDITORIUM TO CIVIL RIGHTS HERO ROBERTO ALVAREZ.

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   On March 9 at 1:30 p.m., the Lemon Grove School District will dedicate the naming of the Lemon Grove Middle School auditorium, "Roberto Alvarez Auditorium," in a ceremony attended by descendants of this civil rights hero, as well as local students, faculty and municipal and educational dignitaries.

 

   The Middle School, 7866 Lincoln Street, stands on the site of Lemon Grove's original grammar school where Roberto Alvarez was a student in 1931.  On Jan. 5 of that year, the school board decreed that pupils of Mexican descent must attend a separate "Americanization School" on the opposite side of the railroad tracks.  Most of the 75 affected pupils were U.S. citizens, who spoke English. 

 

    Mexican-American parents immediately filed suit against the district.  Roberto Alvarez, a poised and articulate 12-year-old, was selected to represent his peers in court.  On Mar. 11, 1931, Judge Claude Chambers ruled in favor of the Mexican families.  The case of Alvarez versus The Lemon Grove School Board of Trustees was the first court-ordered, school desegregation case in the nation.  There was no appeal and the pupils returned to school later in March.

 

     Roberto Alvarez grew up to found Coast Citrus, the multi-million dollar binational, import-export firm that thrives to this day.

    

    The dedication ceremony on Mar. 9 will feature a performance of choral singing and Mexican folk dances by district students, a keynote speech by Dr. Robert Alvarez, Jr, and a welcome by the Lemon Grove Middle School Band.

 

    "Our celebration of this landmark case is deeply meaningful to our diverse school district," said Ernest Anastos, Superintendent of the Lemon Grove School District.  "The ceremony will link our students to a remarkable event in their history in which one group was scapegoated early in the Great Depression.  The calm, dignified manner in which the plaintiff families won justice for their children remains an object lesson for us all."

 



Lemon Grove ISD