Remembering the San Francisco State University Strike and formation of ethnic studies programs, 50 years later

SAN FRANCISCO — From November 6, 1968 to March 20, 1969, students at San Francisco State College took part in a massive demonstration.

“It was part of the civil rights movement. We were looking at two things: getting minority students into the school and the second had to do with establishing a school of ethnic studies,” Judge Ronald Quidachay said.

“We want to increase the representation of third world students because there were so few… There were officially I think 75 Filipinos on campus,” recalled Prof. Daniel Gonzales.

Black, Latino, Asian, and others came together to form the Third World Liberation Front.

Through this movement — the Pilipino American Collegiate End, or PACE, was formed.

“The purpose of PACE was political. It was to become involved so that Filipinos in particular can be represented and it was both on the campus and off the campus.”

“The Filipinos who grew up here and others who were born here, we grew up and so the racist-ness in the system, their ‘otherness’ so they were different from everybody else. So they were looking toward decolonization processes,” said Oscar Penadanda.

The strike became a national issue — especially when police were shown assaulting students.

Students claimed victory as the College of Ethnic Studies was formed.

The strike also motivated students across the country to demand that ethnic studies be taught on their campuses.

“I foresee that this will go on for decades which is really good. It’s a very small segment but certainly an important part.”  

Celebrations of the student strike have been going on since last fall.

On April 20th, a special gala dinner will celebrate the Asian American studies department — with the keynote speaker being — undocumented Filipino filmmaker and SF state alumni Jose Antonio Vargas.

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