Written by Winifred Conkling
The book Sylvia and Aki recounts the true story of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu. Told in alternating chapters from the girls’ points of view, the story about institutional racism enlightens readers to events in recent history of the US. Aki’s family was relocated from their family farm to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert. Meanwhile, Sylvia’s family has rented the Munemitsu farm and Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to enroll in the nearby school. Instead, they are sent to the “Mexican school.” This sets the stage for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. The case, Mendez vs. Westminster School District is considered one of the precursors to Brown vs. Board of Education and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally.