SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release


SF State to commemorate legacy of 1968 student-led strike

Nation's only College of Ethnic Studies and lead educational opportunities program among the groundbreaking changes that resulted


SAN FRANCISCO, October 20, 2008 -- This fall San Francisco State University will commemorate the legacy of the 1968 student-led campus strike on the 40th anniversary of its beginning. On Nov. 6, 1968, some students and faculty walked out of classes to achieve enrollment equity in public higher education, the hiring of more senior faculty of color and new curricula that would embrace the history and culture of all people including ethnic minorities.

The legacy of the strike, which ended on March 20, 1969, includes the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State, the only college of its kind in the United States, and the establishment of the University's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Hundreds of higher education institutions across the country followed SF State's efforts to diversify higher education. According to the Education Resource Information Center, 439 colleges in the country offered a total of 8,805 ethnic studies courses by 1978.

"The strike had a national impact," SF State President Robert A. Corrigan said. "I was on the American Studies faculty at the University of Iowa and we saw this extraordinary movement spreading out from SF State across America:  the notion that we needed to open up universities, expand the curriculum, and study the contributions of ethnic and national minority groups to our nation's history and society. That is when the president of the University of Iowa decided that we should establish a black studies department, and asked me to start the program. SF State paved the way."

The public is invited to join the SF State campus community at a four-day commemoration of the strike's legacy Oct. 29 through Nov. 1. "Consciousness, Community, Liberation: Fulfilling the Promise of '68," will include an academic conference, panel discussions and cultural events that focus on civil rights; social justice; legal, political and economic equity; student leadership and activism; and equal access to public education. Sponsored by the University's College of Ethnic Studies, Educational Opportunity Program, Associated Students Performing Arts, and International Center for the Arts, the commemoration will conclude on Saturday with a free concert featuring jazz greats John Handy and Bobby Hutcherson.

"The purpose of this commemoration is not to recount the past for its own sake," College of Ethnic Studies Dean Kenneth Monteiro said. "It is to take the lessons of the past as a foundation for reinvigorated dialogue, thought and activism to promote social justice, strengthen our communities and improve the conditions for people today."

Registration information and a schedule of the commemoration events and speakers are available at http://www.sfsu.edu/~ethnicst/fortieth.html or call (415) 338-1694.

The College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University has awarded a total of 1,261 baccalaureate and graduate degrees since its establishment in the early 1970s. This semester, 300 classes cover the historical, philosophical and political foundations of African Americans, American Indians, Arab and Muslim Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos. The Cesar Chavez Institute at the College is home to research and initiatives devoted to educational and health equity. The College works with other institutions on initiatives that continue to strengthen and redefine the field of ethnic studies.

The San Francisco State University's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides educational support services such as advising, tutoring and workshops to historically underserved students (low income, first generation to attend college). Each year an average of 350 to 400 SF State students who have benefited from EOP programs earn college degrees.


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