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Book Launch for ‘Mountain Movers’ at 341 FSN

The Southern California book launch for “Mountain Movers: Student Activism and the Emergence of Asian American Studies” (UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press) will be held on Saturday, May 25, at 341 FSN, 341 E. First St. in Little Tokyo.

In Program 1, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Jean Paul DeGuzman and Preeti Sharma will take part in an informal discussion on visions of the future for Asian American studies. In Program 2, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., contributors will share their experiences of the beginnings of Asian American studies at UCLA. Speakers will include Casimiro U. Tolentino and Amy Uyematsu with musical guest Taiji Miyagawa. Light refreshments will be provided.

Copies of “Mountain Movers” will be on sale for the discounted price of $20 at the AASC Press pop-up shop from 12 to 7 p.m.

Edited by Russell Jeung, Karen Umemoto, Harvey Dong, Eric Mar, Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani and Arnold Pan, “Mountain Movers” shares the history of student movements at San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, and UCLA during the 1960s and features oral histories of prior and current student activists.

These student movements emerged in the midst of the civil rights, black power, anti-war, and feminist movements of that turbulent time. Student activists at these universities envisioned an education that would reflect their histories and prepare them to address the problems they saw in their communities and in society.

African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander students demanded a quality education that was accessible to historically marginalized students of color and relevant to problems such as segregation, poverty, and political neglect.

S.F. State was the epicenter of the movement for ethnic studies and affirmative action and the site of the longest student strike in American history, starting in fall of 1968 and lasting five months. The strike was led by African American, Asian American, Latinx and Native American students who formed the Third World Liberation Front.

A similar coalition was established at UC Berkeley, which went on strike for the entire winter quarter of 1969, and called on the university to establish ethnic studies. This movement spread and students at UCLA and elsewhere joined in demanding the establishment of ethnic studies and greater access for students of color at their respective campuses.

During this period through the early 1970s, Asian American studies programs or departments were founded at Merritt College in Oakland, the College of San Mateo, Santa Clara University, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and California State University at Pomona and Long Beach. They were also established at campuses such as the University of Hawaii, Yale University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York, among many others.

The flourishing of a new interdisciplinary field of inquiry, along with new learning opportunities that linked students with Asian American and Pacific Islander and other communities of color, transformed higher education. And it formed the basis for a deeper understanding of the histories and experiences of communities of color in the U.S. and their larger diasporas. There is much to learn from this rich history of social transformation.

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