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Lemon Grove Auditorium Dedicated to S.D. Civil Rights Hero

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Lemon Grove's Middle School officially named its auditorium after a man who many call San Diego's first civil rights hero. KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis was at the dedication ceremony today and has this report.  

A group of Lemon Grove students wearing bright Mexican folk dresses performed in front of a packed audience at the new Roberto Ricardo Alvarez auditorium. Alvarez, a Lemon Grove native, is credited with helping to win the nation's first school desegregation case.

In 1931, Alvarez was separated from his classmates and sent to a school with other Mexican-American kids. The families sued. Alvarez, 12-years-old at the time, spoke on behalf of his classmates in court. Roberto Alvarez Jr. says his father's name is synonymous with this important time in Mexican-American history.     

Alvarez Jr.: You know, here were a bunch of families, from Mexico, who were new to the country. And who basically have the forthright to stand up for their rights.

The school case is now referred to as the Lemon Grove Incident. School officials say naming the auditorium after Alvarez teaches kids about their civil rights. Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

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