Ferguson Effect: The Original 1968-1969 SF State Strike

SF State Strike 1968 (Associated Press)
Associated Press

On the 47th anniversary of the landmark San Francisco State Strike, radical student movements, propelled by protest over the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last year, have again swept universities from coast to coast.

It’s been dubbed the “Ferguson effect”–and bears echoes of the original 1968-student led strike that remains their inspiration (whether they know it or not).

The S.F. State strike, which lasted for five months (between Nov. 6, 1968 and March 20, 1969) has been recognized as the longest campus strike in United States history. According to the self-described revolutionary communist website the Marxist-Leninist, the strikes set the precedent for the creation of the College of Ethnic Studies, which introduced various classes and programs on race.

Led by the Black Student Union, the first-ever Black Studies Department was created at S.F. State, and similar departments soon became a fixture at college campuses across America. Latino and Asian students who claimed to have experienced similar discrimination also mobilized. Together, the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) was created–a movement inspired by Frantz Omar Fanon, whose writings influenced post-colonial studies, critical theory, and Marxism.

Several of the SF Strike alumni include actor Danny Glover; former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; and former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.

The 1968 strike also set the precedent for the modern-day revival of those same sentiments.

This week, academia was dealt another blow for being “too white.” On Monday, both the chancellor and president of the University of Missouri capitulated and resigned within hours of each other after being accused of having “white privilege” by black student groups.

On Tuesday, the University of Southern California student senate passed a controversial “diversity” resolution, demanding mandatory diversity classes for all students, $100 million to create an “inclusion climate,” and the appointment of administrators “who look like us.”

Race relations in this nation have seemingly taken a turn for the worse since Obama took office in 2009. This week, the White House actually endorsed the Missouri protests. No doubt the president, who has expressed nostalgia for the activism of the 1960s, shares the students’ sources of inspiration.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.


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