Latina/Latino Studies Department History

The Latina/Latino Studies Department was founded under the name La Raza Studies as the first program of its kind on a four-year college campus in the United States. It was established as a result of the campus-wide Third World Student Strike in October of 1968. The strike and boycott of classes lasted until April 1969 and was successful in achieving many of its demands, one of which was the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies. More than seven hundred students and community supporters were arrested, dozens were beaten and many more injured in the daily melees with city and Bay Area law enforcement. The SFSU faculty union and The American Federation of Teachers eventually joined in the strike. Many supportive faculty held their classes off campus to respect the boycott of the campus.

Two members of our faculty, Dr. Roberto Rivera and Dr. Velia Garcia were among the student and faculty participants in the strike. Dr. Rivera is one of the founding members of the Latina/Latino Studies Program. Dr. Garcia was the first Latina counselor in the quickly established Educational Opportunity Program -- another of the strike demands. The Program evolved into a department named first La Raza Studies, then Raza Studies, and finally Latina/Latino Studies  in order to promote an inclusive identity for the uniquely San Francisco mix of Chicanos and Latinos with roots from Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The Department's curriculum now focuses on the Latino experience in the U.S., with a special emphasis on local urban issues.