Fifty years ago, students at San Francisco State embarked on a campus strike that lasted five months – the longest student strike in U.S. history. Led by the Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front, the strike was a high point of student struggle in the revolutionary year of 1968. It was met by ferocious repression, but the strikers persevered and won the first College of Ethnic Studies in the U.S. As part of Socialist Worker’s series on the history of 1968, current San Francisco State University Professor Jason Ferreira – the chair of the Race and Resistance Studies department in the College of Ethnic Studies and author of a forthcoming book on the student strike and the movements that produced it – talked to Julien Ball and Melanie West about the story of the struggle and the importance of its legacy for today.
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.
Leo Robinson was a Black leader of the longshore union in San Francisco. He died in mid-January. For many of us, he was a lifelong companion, an example of what being an internationalist and a working class activist was all about. When Leo Robinson spoke, he had the full attention of every union member in Local 10’s cavernous waterfront union hall.
After spending almost 30 years on death row, Abu-Jamal told RT’s Anastasia Churkina: “The truth is I’ve spent most of my living years in my lifetime on death row. So in many ways, even to this day, in my own mind, if not in fact, I’m still on death row.”
I grew up with the picture on the left. That's the America that lynched Black soldiers in their uniforms after World War II. It's the America I was taught. It's the America unfortunately I've lived through. It's the America that killed the Dreamer. But on Nov. 4, 2008, I was most happy to actually meet the America that chose to make the picture on the right its new dawn. I don't know this America. I didn't think it was possible.