Rad Reading: "On Strike!" by Karen Umemoto

by Abaki Beck

Text: On Strike! San Francisco State College Strike, 1968-1969: The Role of Asian American Students

Author: Karen Umemoto

Quote to Highlight: "The focus of the strike was a redefinition of education, which in turn was linked to a larger redefinition of American society. Activists believed that education should be "relevant" and serve the needs of their communities, not the corporations."

Quick Summary: This is an article about Asian American involvement the strikes that helped create the first ethnic studies programs in the nation. Umemoto describes how the desire for ethnic studies grew from desires for of racial harmony but later evolved to focus on self-determination for communities of color. She argues that these strikes are important for students today to know about, as many colleges and universities have shifted to using words like "diversity" to benignly support institutional interests, as opposed to the empowerment of students of color, which is what the protesting students fought for.

File it under: Activism, history, Asian American social history

Type of text:  Academic article with some jargon; much of the text has direct quotes from students involved with the protests


POC Online Classroom strives to make texts and resources that celebrate the intellectual tradition and knowledge production of marginalized communities more accessible. Rad Reading is a new series that highlight texts so readers get an idea of what it’s about before delving in. We will post every Tuesday and Thursday. This is one of the first in the series, but we hope to have one for every resource on the website in the future. Stay tuned!