Founders of Asian American studies dept. launch first book
April 11, 2009 4:51 PM
In 1969, the longest campus strike in United States history birthed the first and only College of Ethnic studies and Asian American Studies department in the nation at SF State.
After 40 years since the strike, the Asian American studies department premiered their book titled "At 40: Asian American Studies @ San Francisco State," illustrating the experiences of those who founded the program, as well as from the faculty and students who followed in their footsteps.
At the book launch on Friday, authors, faculty and students mingled and heard excerpts from the debuted anthology.
"This is our first major chance to tell our history," said Lorraine Dong, the Asian American studies department chair. "We have been silenced too long."
Asian American studies are one of the four ethnic components of the college along with American Indian studies, Africana studies and La Raza studies.
The student-led strike began on Nov. 6, 1968 and protested against racial discrimination, the Vietnam War, the draft and "irrelevant" curriculum, gaining national attention. After the strike ended in March of 1969, the department offered its first courses in September 1969.
"This college is so important," said Andrea Low, a 20-year-old business-marketing student. "We're so diverse at SF State. It's nice to have a class that allows you to learn about your own family history."
Edwardo Duarte, a 23-year-old Asian American studies student, agreed saying, "As a child I was always interested in Japanese culture and it's great that I can learn about it in-depth here."
Irene Dea Collier, a middle school teacher and participant of the strike, believes the book is something that the current generation can have to look back on.
"These people [in the book] did so much and we forget about it," said Dea Collier, who also contributed to the book. "People were great activists in the old days, but now we take it so casually.
The event brought a variety of people, those from the department's first days to its more modern days. James A. Hirabayashi, the first dean of the college, was also there to speak.
"It is up to you look at the context because the whole society is changing," he said of the virtues in the book to everyone in the room. "It's up to you to hold this alive."
Anyone interested in purchasing the book can do so at the Asian American studies department in the Ethnic Studies and Pyschology building, room 103, or online at Asian American studies Web site. All proceeds will benefit the Asian American studies programs at SF State.
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