Friday, February 29, 2008

STAND UP! Bay Area Asian American Movement 1968-1974



AAPA at 1968 Greek Theater UCB Anti-War Rally

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Introduction to the Asian American Movement 1968

( photo: 1968, Oakland high school students attend the Black Panther Party funeral rally for Bobby Hutton,16 years old BPP member. )

A History of the Bay Area Asian American Movement

You Hadda Be There.

The Sixties and Seventies, I mean.

You had to be there, sensing the world turning upside down.

It wasn't remote or academic at all.

On our TVs and in our newspapers we witnessed Asian faces rising up to finish off the latest colonial occupation.

An entire quarter of humanity,

once dismissed as clinging to a colorful past

while waiting for some foreign missionary power to take it under its protection,

had now stood up,

an enormous Red banner of self-determination.

Every American guy graduating high school stared right into the gun barrel of the military draft

and had to decide for himself what the world was about

and where he stood in it.

Political assassinations that shocked the nation and sparked frightening riots happened right here in our own cities.

There was no irony in a militant Black Power salute

or a gentle wave of "Peace, man".

It was real.

Then, as now, oppression breeds resistance. In the spirit of those tumultuous times, we present this collection. From these stories, old photos and artifacts we see stepping stones being laid down for advancing the peoples' causes still being fought. Our corner of the world was the San Francisco Bay Area and we begin in 1968.

Asian Community Center History Group Project

The Asian Community Center History Group put together this collection of reprinted newspaper articles, mimeographed pamphlets and black and white photographs from the period. We hope to document this unique movement by letting the reader peruse the original writings and concerns of that time. Our collection was donated from the personal keepsakes of many individuals who saved the materials for forty years, preserving their collections for historical value. The contents of the reprinted materials have been duplicated for the reader. Where possible, the original pieces were digitized for viewing as well. Understandably, the majority of the content is about the development of the Asian Community Center on Kearny Street, as it reflects our personal interests in the history project. A large portion is from the AAPA newspapers and Wei Min Bao.

The project also reprinted a few articles from the Japanese American movement newspapers to bring attention to the important struggles in Japantown, though these organizations were not affiliated with ACC.

Other sources of reprints are from the Berkeley Barb, San Francisco Journal, Kalayaan, Red Guard Bulletin, Getting Together, New Dawn, Rodan newspapers. We've included these and other unaffiliated sources in order to give the reader a sampling of the wide range of voices during the period.

We hope that the material will be useful for those who were touched by this era and wish to examine more in depth its significance. And we hope that new generations can find value in examining the past to serve the present.

A History of the Asian American Movement

The Asian American movement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s during one of the most tumultuous eras in post-WW2 history. In the Bay Area, the Year 1968 marked a wave of Asian American activity. Three distinct Bay Area events earmarked the beginning of this local movement.

1. The 1968 formation of the Asian American Political Alliance in Berkeley.

2. The 1968 San Francisco State University and 1969 UC Berkeley Third World Liberation Strikes.

3. The International Hotel tenants’ first eviction notice in December 1968.


The Asian American movement began amidst national and worldwide turmoil. The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements were major factors in profoundly influencing large numbers of Asian Americans to question the nature of American democracy. Revolutions throughout the underdeveloped Third World, and China’s Cultural Revolution fueled a rebellious militancy among Asian American youth. Labor struggles like the United Farm Workers Union strike drew many into support for working people rights. Youth worldwide were rocking to new rebel music and lifestyles which broke with convention. The Free Speech Movement which began in Berkeley in 1964 rejuvenated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. And worldwide, women fought for equal rights.

Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA)

In 1968, Asian American civil rights and anti-war activists turned their attention to the specific needs of the Asian American population in the U.S.. The Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) in Berkeley became the first organization to use “Asian American”, a new concept in contrast to the conventional term “Oriental.” Before AAPA, Asian Americans had been mostly divided into separate ethnic organizations such as Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA), or Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

The term “Asian American” became a unifying force among the different Asian ethnic groups. AAPA helped open an avenue of activism for many Asian Americans who later took part in the social transformations of the period, including the Third World Liberation Front Strikes at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and University of California Berkeley campus (UCB). AAPA chapters quickly sprouted throughout the U.S. as well, including Los Angeles, New York, and Hawaii.

Third World Liberation Front (TWLF)

The formation of the Third World Liberation Fronts in San Francisco and Berkeley were unprecedented coalitions of Black, Chicano, Asian, and Native American students. The TWLF demands for relevant ethnic-communities studies proposed innovative curriculum programs, minority admissions and staffing reforms. For the first time in history, racial minorities maintained their alliance for many months, enduring arrests, injuries, and tear gas until their demands were won. Many of the demands won have been maintained for forty years by the Ethnic Studies departments and divisions.

International Hotel Fight Against Eviction and Community Struggles

Shortly after the period of organizing students to struggle for the establishment of various Asian American Studies programs on the college campuses, student activism extended into the surrounding communities. This took the form of establishing community centers and organizations that focused on “Serve the people” programs. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Asian American activists opened a number of centers. In San Francisco, this included the Asian Community Center (ACC), Asian Legal Services (ALS), Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), International Hotel Tenants Association (IHTA), Japanese Community Youth Center (JCYC), and Kearny Street Workshop (KSW).

Much different from campus life, community activism addressed the local needs and conditions of the Asian American communities. As the movement became grounded in local conditions, grassroots leadership and participation grew.

A pivotal point for the Bay Area Asian American movement was the struggle against the eviction of the International Hotel tenants in San Francisco. The International Hotel began as a local fight between a financial district developer and mostly Filipino and Chinese residents living within the Manilatown area adjacent to Chinatown. But within this local background were multiple levels of power that represented globalization—in the form of Bay Area Regional master plans and Pacific Rim development. These forces had already destroyed most of Manilatown and were eliminating many existing housing units in the adjoining Chinatown (mostly bachelor hotel rooms), replacing them with office high-rise buildings, hotels, and retail spaces.

Similarly, redevelopment-related issues were focal points of protest in other Asian American communities. In S.F. Japantown, the Committee Against Nihonmachi Evictions (CANE), consisting of the J-Town Collective and community individuals, emerged to address the needs of residents and small businesses. CANE became involved in supporting low-income affordable housing issues and protests against destruction of residential and small business districts. It had a membership base of over 300 residents who were discontented over the direction of the redevelopment largely owned by Japanese multinational corporations.



Thursday, January 17, 2008

Third World Student Strikes at SFSU & UCB 1968-1969

“On strike, shut it down!”

In 1968-69, African American, Asian American, Chicano and Native American students at San Francisco State College and University of California, Berkeley organized campus coalitions known as the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF). TWLF led student strikes demanded the establishment of Third World Colleges comprised of departments of Asian American, African American, Chicano and Native American Studies. Significance of these strikes were twofold: first, minority student were able to unite in solidarity against institutional racism and second, the strikes won the formation of Ethnic Studies programs.

The concept "Third World" provided a common basis of unity for the TWLF student activists. The term identified parallel colonial and racial experiences of minorities throughout US history. Examples of common racial oppression included: genocide of the native Indians, enslavement of Africans, colonization of Chicanos in the Southwest, and the passage of Asian immigration exclusion. This past was linked with the history of Western colonization in the Third World countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The international movements for independence and self-determination in those locales were viewed as related to the demands of U.S. Third World minorities for political power.

Strike tactics involved informational picketing, blocking of campus entrances, mass rallies and teach-ins. Popular support was often met with repression in the form of police arrests, teargas and campus disciplinary actions. Police mutual assistance pacts enabled the rapid formations of riot squads dispatched from throughout the SF Bay area. During the Fall and Spring semesters of 1968-9, hundreds of students were arrested during the SF State strike, including more than 450 on one sweep alone. Similarly, over 155 students were arrested at the UC Berkeley strike which lasted the entire Winter Quarter of 1969. In the last two weeks of the dispute, the UC campus witnessed the stationing of National Guard troops to maintain martial law.

Establishment of ethnic studies programs has been one of the chief legacies of the strike. These programs have expanded nationally in over 250 universities, colleges and high schools. Both UC Berkeley and SF State University provide undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Ethnic Studies. Another important legacy of the strikes involved the establishment of closer working relationship between students and community. The post-TWLF era witnessed large numbers of Asian American students becoming involved in community-based organizing efforts within the Asian American movement. The International Hotel anti-eviction movement and the establishment of community centers in San Francisco Chinatown-Manilatown and Japantown were an outgrowth of this legacy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Foreign Students Statement (Daily Cal April 18, 1967)


To the Ice Box:
"We, the Foreign Student Association believe that every nation in the world has a strict and fundamental right to determine for itself its own political institutions. And consequently that no nation is justified in directly or indirectly imposing its will or political views on others. We therefore strongly condemn the military intervention by the United States in Vietnam. We demand the immediate and permanent cessation of the bombing of the North, the recognition of the National Liberation Front, and the beginning of negotiations aimed at achieving the end of the war, the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the reunification and independence of Vietnam."

Chinese Students Association; Foreign Students Association; Arab Students Association; Union of the Iberoamerican Students; African Students Association; Turkish Students Association; Moslem Students Association; Friends of the Tri-Continental; Pakistani Students Association; Iranian Students Association

UCB Chinese Student Club Newsletter July 1968


CSC MONSOON MERCURY

Chinese Students’ Club
510 Eshleman Hall

University of California
, Berkeley

July, 1968 Volume 2 Issue

(Printed next to the CSC SCHEDULE OF EVENTS announcing plans for a Beach Party at Folsom Lake)

THE ASIAN—AMERICAN POLITICAL ALLIANCE:

Rally Postponed


"The AAPA Rally, scheduled for Sunday, June 30, in 155 Dwinelle Hall was can­celled due to the Campus and City cur­fews enacted in reaction to the demon­strations and violence of Friday and Saturday. The Dean’s office has told us that they would do all they could to re—schedule the event. All the speakers were notified in advance, and to those who came and were “repelled”, the AAPA offers its apologies and thanks, and asks those people to continue following or joining the Alliance. The next activities are protesting at the Berkeley City Council against the police actions on Friday, June 28, and rallying support for the political prisoner, Huey Newton, on July 8.

The Alliance is now selling “Yellow Peril” buttons to all, and “AAPA” buttons (with the Oriental character mean­ing ‘East’) to sympathizers and members. The AAPA plans to set up a table at noon in Sproul Hall Plaza. For more infor­mation, call... 510 Eshleman, the CSC office, has more information on the Alliance. All those interested in fighting racism, “re-asserting their race”, and working for self-identity, are encouraged to join the Alliance."

--Floyd Huen

BLOG NOTE: On June 30, 1968: Berkeley mayor Wallace Johnson declares a state of emergency and a three day curfew in the city in response to violence in the wake of student demonstrations in support of French student and worker uprisings in France the previous month.

San Francisco State Strike 1968 TWLF Demands

Photo: SFSU TWLF Strike Picketline (AAPA Newspaper 1969)

TWLF SF State College Student Demands:

1. That a School of Ethnic Studies for the ethnic groups involved in the Third World be set up with the students in each particular ethnic organizations having the authority and control of the hiring and retention of any faculty member, director, and administrator, as well as the curriculum in a specific area of study.

2. That 50 faculty positions be appropriated to the School of Ethnic Studies, 20 would be for the Black Studies Program.

3. That in the Spring semester, the College fulfill its commitment to the non-white students by admitting those that apply.

4. That in the Fall of 1969, all applications of non-white students be accepted.

5. That George Murray and any other faculty person chosen by non-white people as their teacher be retained in their position.

(George Murray was an English Department lecturer who was dismissed for his participation in the Black Panther Party. SF State Strike Committee. On Strike: Shut It Down. 1968. p. 3.)

San Francisco State Strike 1968 Student Brochure

Photo: SFSU TWLF Strike Picketline (AAPA Newspaper 1969)

INTERCOLLEGIATE CHINESE FOR SOCIAL ACTION

"S. F. State, a community college, exists in a moral vacuum, oblivious to the community it purports to serve. It does not reflect the pluralistic society that is San Francisco--it does not begin to serve the 300, 000 non-white people who live in this urban community in poverty, ignorance, despair. The Chinese ghetto, Chinatown, is a case in point.

1. S. F. State has a Chinese language department that isolates the “Chinese Experience” as a cultural phenomenon in language that 83% of the Chinese in the U. S. don’t speak. Realistically, we can expect that a Chinese woman living in the ghetto, who speaks Cantonese, cannot explain to the scholar that she is dying of tuberculosis because she speaks a “street language” while the scholar mutters a classical poetry in Mandarin. S. F. State does not teach Cantonese.

2. Chinatown is a ghetto in San Francisco, there are approximately 50,000 Chinese of whom the vast majority live in Chinatown. It is an area of old buildings, narrow streets & alleys, and the effluvia of a great many people packed into a very small space. At present, more than 5, 000 new Chinese immigrants stream into this overpopulated ghetto each year, an area already blessed with a birthrate that is rising, and will rise more. Tuberculosis is endemic, rents are high and constantly rising, city services are inadequate to provide reasonable sanitation, and space is at such a premium as to resemble the Malthusian ratio at in most extreme. There are no adequate courses in any department of school at S. F. State that even begin to deal with the problems of the Chinese people in their exclusionary and racist environment."

Philippine-American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE)

“Statement of the Philippine-American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) Philosophy and Goals.” Mimeograph excerpt. PACE was founded in 1967 at SFSU.

“We seek…simply to function as human beings, to control our own lives. Initially, following the myth of the American Dream, we worked to attend predominantly white colleges, but we have learned through direct analysis that it is impossible for our people, so-called minorities, to function as human beings, in a racist society in which white always come first…So we have decided to fuse ourselves with the masses of Third World people, which are the majority of the world’s peoples, to create, through struggle, a new humanity, a new humanism, a New World Consciousness, and within that context collectively control our own destinies.”