Student Activism & The Emergence of Asia American Studies

Edited by: Russell Jeung, Karen Umemoto, Harvey Dong, Eric Mar,

Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani, Arnold Pan



This book shares the narratives of nine remarkable students. For each of these Asian Americans, their ethnic heritages and racialized experiences, their family backgrounds, their education, and the social movements of their day intersected so that they became agents of change. Specifically, they organized and mobilized fellow students and community members to establish and further Asian American Studies (AAS) on their campuses. AAS has since grown not only to offer a relevant curriculum for and about these students, but also to help develop and empower their communities. With accounts of the development of AAS at San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, and UCLA, Mountain Movers highlights how students have changed the course of history.

Contact the AASC Press for classroom discounts on bulk orders over 15 copies

Mountain Movers: Student Activism and the Emergence of Asian American Studies is a joint project of scholars affiliated with the Asian American Studies programs at SF State, UC Berkeley, and UCLA who came together to co-edit the book. This publication commemorates the 50th anniversary of all three programs that were established in 1969. This volume is not meant to serve as a comprehensive history of the emergence of Asian American Studies, as the founding of programs across the country each have their unique origin story. Nor do the activists who are profiled in this book reflect the entire cross section of activists who participated in the movements of the 1960s or who are active today. These three campus program histories and the nine profiles included in the publication provides, however, a sampling of the range of ideas, activities, backgrounds and approaches related to student activism. Additional oral histories conducted by each of the respective programs are also available.
Editors


HARVEY DONG is a second generation Chinese American who was active in AAPA, TWLF- UC Berkeley, Asian Community Center and was active in the struggle to save the International Hotel. He currently teaches Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley and is active in running Eastwind Books of Berkeley as a community bookstore.


RUSSEL JEUNG grew up in San Francisco, CA and first took Asian American Studies at Lowell High School. After graduating from Stanford University, where he was involved with the statewide Asian Pacific Student Union with co-editors Eric Mar and Karen Umemoto, he worked for the Mayor of San Francisco. He obtained a Ph.D. in Sociology at UC Berkeley, and has written several books on Asian Americans and religion. His memoir, "At Home in Exile: Meeting Jesus Among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors," shares his family's six generations in California and his organizing work with refugees.


ERIC MAR is a former San Francisco Supervisor and grew up in Sacramento with his twin brother Gordon, a newly elected SF Supervisor for the Sunset District. Now an Assistant Professor at SF State University, Eric credits his Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (APSU) colleagues, Asian American Studies at UC Davis, and grassroots community leaders from groups like the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) for helping guide his activism. He has served as Acting Dean of the New College of California School of Law, union shop steward for SEIU Local 790, Director of the Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and President of the SF Board of Education.


ARNOLD PAN is Associate Editor of Amerasia Journal and a staff member at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Prior to joining the staff of the Asian American Studies Center, Pan earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Irvine; his dissertation research is on representations of race and space in early twentieth century literature. In addition to his academic background, Pan has worked as a freelance writer on music and culture.


LISA HIRAI TSUCHITANI was born and raised in San Jose. She received her doctorate in Social and Cultural Studies in Education from UC Berkeley, where she majored in East Asian Studies and Asian American Studies as an undergraduate. She teaches courses on Japanese American history, critical pedagogy, and educational equity in the Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies Program at UC Berkeley, where she is Chair of the Japanese American Studies Advisory Committee and Faculty Chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee of the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion.


KAREN UMEMOTO was born and raised in Los Angeles and was involved in student and community organizing on a range of issues, including divestiture of university funds in apartheid South Africa, tenant organizing against evictions, mobilizing for redress and reparations for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II, and juvenile justice reform. She received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies from SF State, master's degree in Asian American Studies from UCLA, and doctorate in Urban Studies from MIT. She taught at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in urban planning for 22 years before returning to UCLA, where she is Professor of Urban Planning and Asian American Studies and the Helen and Morgan Chu Endowed Director's Chair and Director of the Asian American Studies Center.

Contributing Authors

IRENE DEA COLLIER immigrated to the United States from Hoiping in Guangdong Province, China in 1953. After helping establish some of the first Asian American studies classes and campus-to-community connections, Collier became an active leader in the Association of Chinese Teachers (TACT) and the director of Wah Mei School, San Francisco's 1st bilingual preschool, championing language equality and multilingual education in our school systems.


MALCOLM COLLIER is a founding member and Lecturer Emeritus of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. A native of New Mexico and educated in Peru, Malcolm is also active in photography, visual anthropology, cross-cultural education, and raising his grandchildren with his longtime partner, Irene Dea Collier.


JEAN-PAUL DEGUZMAN is a scholar of twentieth-century American history, with particular interests in Asian American history and Los Angeles. Earning his Ph.D. in History from UCLA, deGuzman has an extensive background teaching Asian American studies and working in public history. DeGuzman is currently on the history faculty of Windward School in Los Angeles.


HARVEY DONG is a second generation Chinese American who was active in AAPA, TWLF-UC Berkeley, Asian Community Center and was active in the struggle to save the International Hotel. He currently teaches Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley and is active in running Eastwind Books of Berkeley as a community bookstore.


LILLIAN FABROS is from Salinas, CA and became a student organizer active in the formation of the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA), the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF). She worked as a social worker/community organizer and attorney. Today she is a Program Manager with Los Angeles County and volunteers in the Filipino community.


DANIEL PHIL GONZALEZ has taught, researched, written, and recorded video since participating in the founding of Asian American Studies and the School (now College) of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University in 1969. He has been historical advisor to several print projects, films, and television programs about Asian Americans and American legal, political, and social processes, Filipino American history, and Philippines-US relations. He received his BA, International Relations, from SFSU, and his Juris Doctorate from Hastings College of Law.


HOLLY RANA LIM immigrated to the US from the Philippines when she was four year old and grew up with her single mother in neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Montebello and Pico Rivera. With degrees in Political Science/Law and Society from UC Riverside and an MA in Asian American Studies from SFSU she has taught Asian American Studies at local colleges and is focused on tenants’ rights and fundraising as the Board Vice President for Filipino Advocates for Justice.Today, as Director of Public Allies SF/Silicon Valley, she trains, inspires and empowers young activists as a community leader and a campaign organizer.


JEFF MORI grew up in San Francisco’s Richmond district, worked as Executive Director of the Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC), an organization that he helped co-found, and later as director of SF’s Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and Their Families. With his unique understanding of politics and community, he also built Asian American Recovery Services Inc., (AARS).


PREETI SHARMA grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Florida before entering graduate school at UCLA. As a master's student in the UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, Sharma became involved in a wide array of Los Angeles-area Asian American community organizations, including Khmer Girls in Action, South Asian Network, and Chinatown Community for Equitable Development. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Gender Studies; her research is focused on the roles of South Asian American and Vietnamese American women in the beauty industry.


CASIMIRO TOLENTINO was born in Manila and migrated to Los Angeles at the age of ten. He became involved in the Asian American movement as a UCLA student. Tolentino has had a long career in law, working as an attorney for the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board and Department of Fair Employment and Housing, among other organizations, as well as serving as Administrative Law Judge for the State of California. His contributions to Asian American non-profit organizations have been numerous, playing crucial roles with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (now Asian Americans Advancing Justice-L.A.) and Visual Communications.


AMY UYEMATSU, a Sansei born in Pasadena, California, took part in the Asian American movement during the late '60s. During that time, she joined the staff of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, working as a researcher, publications coordinator, and instructor; she was also a co-editor of the seminal collection Roots: An Asian American Reader(1971). Uyematsu became a well-known poet, while working as a high school mathematics teacher in the Los Angeles area.


L. LING-CHI WANG helped establish Asian American Studies at UC Berkeley, and taught its first course in 1969. He is a founder of Chinese For Affirmative Action and the recipient of the Association for Asian American Studies Lifetime Achievement Award. Before his retirement in 2006, Professor Wang headed the program and the Ethnic Studies Department several times. He helped create the Ethnic Studies graduate program, as well as the campus American Cultures requirement. In 1992, Professor Wang co-founded the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO).


NKAUJ IAB YANG is Director of California Policy and Programs for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). She works closely with Southeast Asian American led and serving organizations throughout California to build a statewide Southeast Asian American equity agenda. Nkauj Iab spent the last 11 years committed to youth organizing and youth development work both in Sacramento and Oakland.


Curriculum Developer

ROBERT JAVIER, M.A. A Bay Area native, Robert Javier earned a B.A. in English and French from Santa Clara University in 1991, an M.A. In English Literature in 1993, and his Single Subject Teaching Credential in English in 1994 from San Jose State University. Since 1995, he has taught English classes at Monta Vista High School and more recently, at Fremont High School, ranging from ELD 3 (English Language Development) and Literature/Writing to AP English in the Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) in the Cupertino/Sunnyvale area. He has played a leadership role in the incorporation of diverse literary works and the development of innovative pedagogy throughout his career to ensure that the diverse experiences and perspectives of students are reflected and respected.