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


UCLA

Rally announcement by Asian Americans for Peace appeared in January 1970 issue of Gidra newspaper.

Campbell Hall Coalition march in support of the formation of the Ethnic Studies Centers on UCLA campus, Los Angeles. August 8, 1969.

Courtesy of UCLA Photography.

"Asian Studies for Spring Quarter (and longer)!" picket sign on UCLA campus, Los Angeles. Students had to keep fighting for Asian American and Ethnic Studies courses to be offered every year in the early period of the ethnic studies centers.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection.

Asian Americans at demonstration in Los Angeles protesting US involvement in the Vietnam war and calling for peace. Circa 1971.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection.

"Student volunteers at Community Day in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, to educate the public about the Vietnam War and the military draft." Circa 1971.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection.

Yuji Ichioka speaking at an "Asian Americans for Peace" march and rally in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. January 17, 1970.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection.

Warren Furutani speaking at anti-war rally at UCLA's Drake Stadium, Los Angeles. Circa 1970.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection.

Students from UCLA's Ethnocommunications graduate film program documenting the Pioneer Project's field trip taking Japanese American seniors to Lancaster to view wildflower in bloom. (from left to right) Duane Kubo, Alan Ohashi, Steve Tatsukawa and Mike Murase were staff members of Gidra. Duane, Alan and Steve of Ethnocommunications were also founders of Visual Communications along with Bob Nakamura and Eddie Wong. Circa 1971.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection.

Flyer for Asian Women in America course at UCLA taught by May Chen in Spring 1973. Description reads: There is a unique quality of Third World women's movements that has not been significantly covered by current white women's courses or movements. This course, 'Asian Women in America,' proposes a new view. As Asian American women, our roles and positions are in large part defined by American perceptions and stereotypes as well as by remnants of East Asian culture that have been carried to America. In this course we hope to generate a new perspective applicable to other non-white women as well.

The Amerasian Generation Conference, "Amerasian Movement: Identity and Change in America!" in the Grand Ballroom at the UCLA Ackerman Union. February 12 and 13, 1971.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies Center, Gidra photo collection. Photograph by Willie Fujinami.

   


UC BERKELEY

Third World Liberation Front leaders marching down Bancroft, California, c. 1969, (from left to right): Charles Brown (Afro American Student Union), Ysidrio Macias (Mexican American Student Confederation), LaNada Means (Native American Student Union), and Stan Kadani (Asian American Political Alliance).

Chicano Studies Program Records, CS ARC 2009/1 Carton 1 Folder 14, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Asian American Political Alliance Statement, c. 1969.

Third World Strike at University of California, Berkeley collection, CES ARC 2015/1, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Crowd in front of Sather Gate, Third World Liberation Front Strike, c. 1969

Chicano Studies Program Records, CS ARC 2009/1 Carton 1 Folder 15, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Street view of Workers Committee to Fight for the International Hotel. The name of the committee was more of a symbolic name, since it was the interests of the working class that were at stake in the fight for affordable housing.

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Tenants of IH. City Hall demonstration. Figure in rear unknown. Frankie is seated in center between signs. Tenant names need to be completed.

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

IH demo in Chinatown, shows signs expressing common themes of struggle. c. 1972

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Harvey Dong, right; Dolly Lumsdaine on left is wearing a denim Mao jacket produced by the Chinatown Garment Co-op, which was located in the rear of the ACC basement space.

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Steve Yip, left; Harvey Dong, right, c.1972. See blackboard notations behind for date reference.

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Quote posted to both inspire and remind.

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.



SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

The Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, a coalition of student groups, organized the longest strike at a U.S. academic institution at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). The five-month strike culminated in the creation of the College of Ethnic Studies and policies for relevant, community-engaged curriculum.

Photograph by Nacio Jan Brown

Two days after Bloody Tuesday, faith-based leaders and community members joined over 2,000 students marching across 19th Avenue on December 5, 1968. As San Francisco police responded with arrests, an officer choke-holds Ecumenical House director Rev. Gerry Pedersen after he comes to the aid of students who appealed for non-violence.

Photograph by Nacio Jan Brown

Students and youth linked arms with allies from throughout San Francisco on August 4, 1977, to defend the I-Hotel tenants from evictions after nearly ten years of resistance. Organizers like Pam Tau Lee, who lived in Chinatown SROs (single room occupancy hotels) several blocks away, used their knowledge and skills to improve housing, employment, and environmental health and safety conditions in their communities.

Photograph by Chris Fujimoto

200 persons rally with the Committee Against Nihonmachi Evictions (CANE) to protest a high rise hotel development by Japan's Kintetsu Corporation and San Francisco's Redevelopment Agency which threatened to displace many low-income Japanese Americans and small businesses in 1974. Like the I-Hotel tenants, CANE successfully mobilized thousands of people and forcibly occupied several buildings slated for destruction to protect their community.

Unity Archive Project

On May 19, 1979, the Korean American community rallies with Asian American student and community activists in Stockton, CA, calling for the release of Chol Soo Lee, an immigrant facing the death penalty for killing a man in a prison fight. The pan-Asian Chol See Lee Defense Committee organzed support from campuses to Korean churches, building awareness and pressure on the courts, resulting in Lee's acquittal March 28, 1983, and eventual release.

Unity Newspaper

By 1968, youth in Chinatown and other immigrant communities were growing and faced a lack of educational and employment opportunities. They began demanding better housing, schools, healthcare, family support, and a political voice, over the objections of the much older Chinatown community leaders.

Photograph by Malcolm Collier

The SF State student leaders quickly built support from diverse grassroots community, labor, and workers rights organizations. The Community Strike Support Coalition included the Pacific Heights ad hoc committee Supporting SF State Strike, SF State American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1352, San Jose State College AFT Local 1362 and Japanese Americans Concerned Supporting Striking Students.

Photograph by Nacio Jan Brown

Philippine American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) and TWLF leader Robert "Bob" G. Ilumin addresses the December 5, 1968, mass rally as Dr. Juan Martinez stands by.

Photograph by Nacio Jan Brown

The Third World Strike created new relationships and alliances as it brought together Chinese American community leaders like Alan Wong and African Americans like Black Panther Party Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies, SFSU

Courtesy of the SF State Strike Collection, San Francisco State University

In 1969, SF State Asian American Political Alliance leader Penny Nakatsu and others not only played a critical role in the strike, but also helped build the Asian American Studies Department as a new pan-Asian political force connecting the campus with their communities.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies, SFSU

Third World Liberation Front activists and supporters created art and images that countered the dehumanizing depictions of their communities in the mass media and U.S. culture.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies, SFSU

Two hundred Filipino students, faculty, staff, and community members, along with lead artists James Garcia and Christina Carpio, unveiled the Filipino Community Mural in 2003 at SF State University's Cesar Chavez Student Center.

Photograph by Eric Mar

Muralist David Cho, with Albert Yip, worked with the pan-Asian student organizations at SF State to design the Asian & Pacific Islander Mural, dedicated April 30, 2004, at the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

Photograph by Eric Mar

The artists and community salute not only leaders but also Asian American resistance organizations and movements: Japanese American Redress and Reparations, the Third World Student Strike at SF State, Chinatown's Red Guard Party, and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

Photograph by Eric Mar

After the strike ended March 21, 1969, Asian American students, staff, and faculty began writing curriculum, recruiting new faculty, and institutionalizing the new Asian American Studies Department (AAS) and School (now College) of Ethnic Studies. Pioneering AAS faculty depicted in the photo included social scientists, playwrights, poets, and writers, psyschologists, historians, educators, sociologists, social workers, and community activists.

Courtesy of Asian American Studies, SFSU

Hundreds of students and community supporters rallied on May 9, 2016 at San Francisco State University in support of student hunger strikers demanding adequate funding for the College of Ethnic Studies, a stop to the gentrification of the university, and the decline of the African American student population on the campus.

Photograph by Eric Mar

Two hundred people rally with the Committee Against Nihonmachi Evictions (CANE) to protest the demolition of a Japantown historical site.

Courtesy of Unity Archive Project

The International Hotel in San Francisco Chinatown was home to many elderly Filipino and Chinese residents along with the Kearny Street Workshop and other organizations. All tenants were evicted in 1977 in the face of prolonged community protest. c. 1971.

Photograph by Steve Louie, Wei Min She and Asian Community Center photographs, AAS ARC 2015/3, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

The SF State Asian American Political Alliance organized a large open community meeting on a Friday evening, December 6, 1969, a month after the start of the strike, to educate the Japantown community and broaden their base of support.

SF State Strike Collection Archives

Proposal for Institute of Japanese American Studies and the School of Ethnic Area Studies.

University Archives & Historic Collections, J. Paul Leonard Library,
San Francisco State University

Intercollegiate Chinese for Social Action (ICSA) Position Paper condemns the ignorance displayed by San Francisco State College towards Third World people, particularly residents of Chinatown, and supports the establishment of a "School of Ethnic Area Studies."

University Archives & Historic Collections, J. Paul Leonard Library,
San Francisco State University

This strike flyer from the San Francisco State Strike Committee lays out five demands, including anti-imperialist, anti-racist and pro-labor positions and emphasizes that the strike is "in solidarity with the nationwide student strike" initiated by the anti-Vietnam war movement.

University Archives & Historic Collections, J. Paul Leonard Library,
San Francisco State University

Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) document highlights demands students supporting the demands made by the Third World Liberation Front as well as presenting their own demands to fight racism on campus.

University Archives & Historic Collections, J. Paul Leonard Library,
San Francisco State University