February 14, 1969 – Commonwealth Club Of California – Lecture by Leo McClatchy, San Francisco State College – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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1969 Student strikes. Protest over a myriad of issues. The decade would be ending in a flurry of confrontations and closed Universities, the air thick with teargas and the sound of gunfire. Much of it had to do with the war in Vietnam, the tide of opinion against our involvement in Southeast Asia. But some of it had to do with the increasing social awareness and changes in our attitudes towards race and ethnicity – how we were reacting towards each other on a human level and a shattering of myths and stereotypes. On the one hand it was time that had come and on the other hand it was time to lay prejudices bare.
An institution established in the final year of the 19th century, San Francisco State College found itself confronted by the idealism of the youth of the 1960s and anger over academic bureaucratic policies. From November 1968 to March 1969, the words “On strike! Shut it down!” rang out daily from the campus of San Francisco State College. The five month strike sought to expose the racism and authoritarianism found on campus and demanded increased student of color representation, as seen in the demands of the Black Students and Third World Liberation movements. As a result of strikers efforts, the Departments of Black Studies and Ethnic Studies were founded at SF State.
This lecture, given by SF State Professor Leo McClatchy for The Commonwealth Club Of California and Public Radio, outlines the protest, strike and the events leading up to the confrontation between students and the Administration. It comes on the heels of an address a week earlier by S.I. Hayakawa, who was President of the college who had achieved notoriety for climbing on to the student sound truck, ripping cables trying to silence the protestors.
Here is McClatchy’s address as it was given on February 14, 1969.