Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

Photo courtesy of California La Raza Lawyers Association, accessed 26 April 2011.


Exploring the Immigrant Experience in Orange County
Great Park Seminars Connect Orange County’s Past to Today

IRVINE– Orange County’s diverse population could be taken for granted, if you don’t know the past of struggle and conflict that brought us to a present where more than 40% of county residents speak a language other than English in their homes. Stories of segregation and integration that formed today’s Orange County will be presented during the free Great Park Festival of Time History Seminars, including the landmark case that ended Mexican segregation in Orange County schools and the Vietnamese immigrant experience.

This Thursday, May 5th, the seminar series begins with Understanding the Mendez v. Westminster Court Case: A School Desegregation Milestone. Before Brown v. Board of Education, there was a case here in Orange County that challenged the practice of placing Mexican American students in all-Mexican schools. The Mendez family tried to enroll their child in a “white” school, were denied, and joined other Mexican families in a class action lawsuit against four Orange County school districts. Brook Thomas, Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, will place this groundbreaking court case into the historical context of other landmark national cases, including Brown v. Board of Education.

The following Thursday, May 12th, the Vietnamese Immigrant Experience seminar will explore what refugees encountered relocating to Orange County and how they adjusted as immigrants. The largest number of Vietnamese people found outside of Vietnam is found in Orange County, and this seminar will shed light on how the end of the Vietnam War affected local populations. Through a mix of film clips and narrative, Linda Vo, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at UCI, and Ysa Le, Director of the Vietnamese Arts & Letters Association and the Vietnamese International Film Festival, will talk about the challenges refugees experienced and how they adjusted as immigrants.

The history seminars will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will take place at the Great Park Corporation offices, off of Sand Canyon on Trabuco Rd. in Irvine. The seminars are presented as part of the Great Park Festival of time, which serves to reflect on the history of Orange County in the context of national events. The main event of the Festival of Time is a daylong festival at the Great Park on Saturday, May 14th. The day begins at 4:00 p.m. with a “Museum Without Walls,” including vintage vehicles, military aircraft and historic safety vehicles. The outdoor museum will also include a flight simulator and musical entertainment from the 1940s. The cultural diversity and history theme of the seminars are reflected in the day’s culminating event — a screening of the 1958 movie musical South Pacific at 7:30 p.m. outdoors under the stars.

Events and parking are free. For more information, please visit


By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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