From college readiness
to ready for revolution!
Third World Student Activism at a Northern California
Community College, 1965â€“1969
There is talk of revolution in our land today, and it is not idle talk.
â€” robert ewigLeben, President, College of San Mateo,
June 12, 19691
Every black mother, every black father, every Mexican mother,
every Mexican father, every father and every mother in every
group, white, Puerto Rican, Indian, Eskimo, Arab, Jew, Chinese,
Japanese . . . need to be made to understand, that if they have no
child or teenager involved in the educational process today because
they were not able to afford to send them to college or something of
that nature, that in itself is a criticism of the structure of education
in the United States. [W]eâ€™re not reformists, weâ€™re not in the
movement to reform the curriculum of a given university or a
given college or to have a Black Students Union recognized at a
given high school. We are revolutionaries, and as revolutionaries,
our goal is the transformation of the American social order.
â€” eLdridge cLeaver, Minister of Information,
Black Panther Party, November 19692
Jason Ferreira is an associate professor and the director of race and resistance studies in the College
of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. His teaching and scholarship focus on the
history of radicalism within and across communities of color. Ferreira is a co-founder of the Institute
for MultiRacial Justiceâ€”a resource center dedicated to building alliances between communities of
colorâ€”and the Center for Political Education in San Franciscoâ€™s Mission District.
Kalfou, Volume 1, Issue 1 (Spring 2014). Â© 2014 by the Regents of the University of California. ISSN 2151-4712 (print).
ISSN 2372-0751 (online). http://dx.doi.org/10.15367/kf.v1i1.12. All rights reserved.
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fields did not just emerge out of the social movements of the 1960s, but that, at
one point, these programs were designed and directed to serve working-class
constituencies beyond the campus. Ironically, these programs that arose out of a
revolutionary movement and moment have been watered down in popular memory to stand for a series of liberal reforms directed at college curricula, faculty
hiring, and admission policies. Diversifying the institution, in other words, has
replaced the notion of revolutionizing higher education and developing a praxis
that would speed the â€œtransformation of the American social order.â€
The push for liberal reforms, however, did constitute an important part of
the story, and a diverse curriculum, faculty, and student body did arise as key
demands in Latina/o, Black, Asian American, and American Indian student
struggles. As Joseph White, a former dean of undergraduate studies at San Francisco State University, recently stated in regard to that campusâ€™s 1968â€“1969 student strike, â€œWe were invisible on the faculty, in the curriculum and on the staff.
And we were almost invisible in the student body.â€3
To address this situation in
California, many individuals on campus and in the community made courageous sacrificesâ€”facing physical beatings, arrests, and job lossâ€”in a political
confrontation with a powerful conservative â€œlaw and orderâ€ bloc, led by Governor Ronald Reagan, who would occupy the White House a dozen years later. It is
perhaps due to the conservatism of the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, which
included as part of its platform the reversal of 1960s liberalismâ€”with its demonization of â€œpolitical correctnessâ€ and tenured radicals, and the waging of culture
warsâ€”that the social movements for Latina/o studies (and others under the rubric of ethnic studies) are understood as principally a battle between conservatism and liberalism. But in truth, the movements of the late 1960s often emerged
out of a conflict with postwar liberalismâ€”not over visibility on the campus and
in the canon, but over power in the realization of self-determination.
One factor contributing to this ahistorical understanding of the period
is the lack of sustained historical research, from the ground up, into Chicana/oLatina/o student movements. To date, there are no in-depth social histories investigating specific Chicana/o-Latina/o student struggles, as exist for the Black
and white student movements at universities like Cornell, Columbia, or Berkeley. While there are books by veterans of the era, such as Carlos MuÃ±oz Jr.â€™s
important overview, Youth, Identity, and Power: The Chicano Movement, and
others that touch on student activism, like Laura Pulidoâ€™s Black, Brown, Yellow,
and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles or George Mariscalâ€™s Brown-Eyed
Children of the Sun: Lessons from the Chicano Movement, 1965â€“1975, no monograph yet exists that investigates in detail the unfolding of the Chicana/o movement on a specific campus. Without grounded historical studies, it becomes
difficult to generalize about the nature of the Chicana/o movement or the objective of Chicana/o studiesâ€“Latina/o studies.
This article, therefore, seeks to contribute to this endeavor. It carefully ex-
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 119
cavates a student struggle on a Bay Area campus (the College of San Mateo)
and explores the dialectic of reform and revolution as it unfolded. It demonstrates how postwar liberalism created opportunity and offered promise, opening a new space for Latinas/os and other students of color, while also laying the
groundwork for frustration as these actors came up against both structural and
ideological limitations. This experience with Cold War liberalism would ultimately lead to a greater embrace of revolutionary politics.
Secondly, this article makes a critical intervention in scholarship regarding
the Chicana/o movement. Much attention has been paid to Southern California
in the historiography of the Chicana/o movement. Yet, in contrast to Southern
California, cultural nationalism never became the ideological touchstone for
Latina/o radicalism in the Bay Area. On the one hand, Chicanas/os in Northern
California often lived, worked, and organized alongside Latinas/os from Central America, thereby contributing to a more expansive political identification.
La Raza Unida Party in Northern California, for instance, defined â€˜Razaâ€™ as
anyone with roots in Latin America, while San Francisco State University implemented a Department of Raza Studies instead of Chicana/o Studies. At the
same time, a distinctly Third Worldist discourse shaped Latina/o politics, born
of the interconnections that existed between various communities of color in
the region. The story of the College of San Mateo reveals these relationships and
challenges scholars (and activists) to think about how historical narratives and
collective lives may be more intertwined then previously imagined.
Lastly, sharing the story of the College of San Mateo is important to the process of reclaiming the richness and diversity of Latina/o social struggle during
the 1960s because community colleges were the public institutions of higher education that enrolled (and still enroll) the greatest number of working-class students (of color). There are more than one hundred community colleges across
California, and they serve as the primary entry point to higher education for Latinas/os. In the historiography of the 1960s, scholars tend to focus on elite institutions, such as Berkeley and Columbia; rarely are community colleges and their
students the subject of this defining era. Thus, while a regional movement of
Third World students existed in the Bay Area that included Berkeley, San Francisco State, San Jose State, Laney Community College, and a host of inner-city
high schools, this article places the College of San Mateo at the center of the story.
The california higher education system
and the college of san Mateo
The Donahoe Education Act of 1960, which reorganized higher education in
California into its current three-tier system, assigned community colleges the
role of providing technical or vocational education. The â€œMaster Plan,â€ as it
came to be called, reflected an attempt to accommodate the growing public
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demand for mass higher education while also serving the interests of industry.
Community colleges remained open to all who applied, while admission into
the University of California (UC) and California State College (now CSU) systems became increasingly restrictive. The UC and State College systems emphasized research and a liberal arts education, respectively, as community
colleges assumed primary responsibility for vocational training.
Located midway down the San Francisco peninsula, the College of San Mateo (CSM) is situated in a suburban area; during the mid-1960s, the student
body was predominantly white and from the middle- and upper-income brackets. Roughly 8,000 students went to CSM during the day, while another 11,000
attended classes at night. Not surprisingly, in an effort to develop their future
workforce, local corporations, such as United and American airlines, funneled
funds into various academic departments at CSM. A local police department
even sponsored the campusâ€™s Criminology Department, otherwise known at
CSM as â€œPolice Science.â€ By the mid-1960s, less than 5 percent of CSM students
ever transferred to a four-year institution.4
Prior to 1968, CSM remained relatively tranquil, as most student activism
occurred in San Francisco/Berkeley or further south at San Jose State College.
On the CSM campus, administrators had effectively silenced all protest activity.
In 1964, for instance, they suspended students who campaigned to defeat Proposition 14, a state initiative crafted to reverse the 1963 Rumford Fair Housing Act.
If any one individual can be credited with bringing political radicalism to
the CSM campus, however, it was Aaron Manganiello, a young Chicano originally from South Texas. After a stint organizing with the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he and his family moved to the Bay Area.
While working the San Francisco jazz circuit as a trumpet player in John
Handy and Monkâ€™s Big Band in 1964, Manganiello continued his activism,
participating in the historic Sheraton Palace Hotel â€œsit-insâ€ in downtown San
Francisco. In 1965, after Manganiello enrolled as a student, CSM suspended
him for distributing antiwar literature. By 1966, his individual activism turned
more confrontational when he conducted a one-man hunger strike at a Redwood City napalm plant. In the middle of the night, every night for six nights,
workers hosed Manganiello down with cold water, leading him to eventually
develop pneumonia. With the hunger strike seemingly broken, Manganiello
responded by laying his body in front of napalm-loaded trucks. He was arrested for thisâ€”againâ€”individual act of protest, but within a short time, Manganiello sat at the center of a broader social movement at CSM. In 1968, after
visiting with the leadership of the Brown Berets in Los Angeles, Aaron Manganiello and Manuel Gomez, a Chicano activist at California State University,
Hayward, started a Northern California chapter of the Brown Berets. Manganiello subsequently became the Minister of Education.5
By 1968, however, the mood on the CSM campus had changed significantly.
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 121
The escalating war in Vietnam generated heated discussions and an occasional
antiwar protest, but the issue of race and racism occupied center stage. At CSM,
this debate revolved specifically around the College Readiness Program, an initiative originally intended to improve Black studentsâ€™ access to higher education, primarily by providing tutoring and financial assistance. Following the
example of the tutorial program at San Francisco State College (SFSC), student
activists at CSM began working withinâ€”and politicizingâ€”the College Readiness Program. This early program, born of mid-1960s Cold War liberalism,
eventually became a focal point for a developing Third World radicalism.6
In the wake of the 1965 racial rebellion in Watts, a concerned CSM President
Julio Bortolazzo called for the immediate development and implementation of
a recruitment and retention program for students of color. At the time, the
dropout rate for students of color at CSM amounted to an astonishing 90 percent. In the summer of 1966, thirty-nine Black students from a variety of local
high schools enrolled in the newly created College Readiness Program (CRP).
Throughout the summer, students started their day by taking a subsidized bus
ride to the San Mateo campus, then attended regular classes in the morning,
and labored at work-study jobs in the afternoon. After returning home by bus
in the evening, they were visited by college tutors. Starting in the fall of that
year, an on-campus tutoring center was opened in a bomb shelter located in the
basement of the administration building. In the 1966â€“1967 academic year,
nearly 100 Black students participated in the program. At this early stage, the
majority of tutors were sympathetic white CSM students, while Jean Wirth, a
white English instructor, served as the sole counselor for the entire program.
Over the next few years, however, the CRP grew exponentially in size, diversity,
and pedagogical approach. Students of color who had enrolled in the CRP one
year played a vital role in recruiting students for the following year. In the
1967â€“1968 academic year, the number of students participating in the CRP
mushroomed to 256, with 87 tutors working with them. Significantly, in this
year, CRP expanded to recruit Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans into the program. By the fall semester of 1968, the CRP was bursting at
the seams with nearly 500 students relying upon the program in some fashion.7
In 1967, key figures, such as Aaron Manganiello, began getting involved in
the CRP, and would ultimately push the program in a more radical direction.
Manganiello, the Minister of Information for the Brown Berets and a former
organizer for the SNCC, already had a long record of activism and civil disobedience. As the program grew in size, an increasingly militant cadre of Third
World students graduated from and then actively worked within the program
as tutors. These included such figures as Warren Furutani, Pat Sumi, Ralph
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Ruiz, John Brandon, Tony and Mario Martinez, and Nelson Rodriguez. Significantly, many of these CRP tutors went on to become key members of the developing Black, Brown, and Yellow Power movements. Ruiz, Rodriguez, and
the Martinez brothers eventually became central actors in the legal defense
campaign on behalf of â€œLos Siete de La Razaâ€ (seven young Latino men charged
with murdering a police officer) in San Francisco.8
The hiring of Robert Hoover in 1967 proved the most momentous development
for the CRP. An African American from East Palo Alto with deep community
ties, Hoover was initially brought into the program to serve as a second counselor;
ultimately, he became co-director of the program with Jean Wirth. In the early
years, the program had principally provided routine academic tutoring with a
small financial aid package (generally work-study employment). With the arrival
of Hoover, however, this recruitment strategy changed. Rather than targeting only
those high school students who might already be predisposed to attend college,
CRP also began to focus on those most alienated from the educational establishment: the so-called â€œbrothers and sisters on the block.â€ Thus, in addition to recruiting at inner-city high schools, CRP members worked within a diverse array
of social spaces, such as pool halls and public parks, or simply with youth hanging
out on their front stoop. These new recruitment strategies resulted in an increasingly diverse student body in both racial and class terms.9
At the same time, the CRP began to embrace a pedagogy that emphasized
the â€œwhole student.â€ This new approach recognized that simply parachuting
students from poor, inner-city communities of color onto white college campuses to take traditional vocational courses was woefully insufficient. In a January 1969 interview, Manganiello explained in greater detail the pedagogical
transformation that took place within the CRP:
They started to develop the concept that you had to take care of the entire student, in everything he did. Because it wasnâ€™t a matter of his just
needing academic tutoring, but also that he didnâ€™t have the type of environment that was conducive to study. [Take] an orientation class. . . .
[T]hey tell you that you should have two or three hours every night in
complete silence so that you can read and study, with no radios or television going, that you should have the perfect type of studying environment and conditions. Well, most of the time thatâ€™s impossible. You
have five or six kids, you have the radio and television going on, youâ€™re
taking care of the kids, and youâ€™re trying to study in between. . . . And
then you donâ€™t have money for books, you donâ€™t have money for food,
for clothes; if you want to get out of that environment, you donâ€™t have
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 123
money for housing; you want to get out to school, you donâ€™t have any
money for transportation. The College Readiness Program sought at
least in part to [address] some of the needs in all these areas.10
The decision to adopt an approach that sensitively squared the specifics of college recruitment and retention with the racial and class realities of the larger
society proved enormously successful. In 1967, just two years after the programâ€™s founding, CSM officials conducted a study of the CRP and found that
the dropout rate for students of color had fallen to 15 percent. Moreover, among
those who did leave school, financialâ€”not academicâ€”issues emerged as the
primary reason for their decision. Of those CRP students able to stay, roughly
90 percent transferred to a four-year college.11
Central to CRP pedagogy was the development of a multicultural curriculum. Hoover explained the underlying rationale behind such programming:
We recruit these students, bring them to college, and then begin an intensive de-brainwashing . . . to convince the student that he does have a
brain. Because he has been pretty well convinced through the twelve
years of â€œeducationâ€ he has just received that he does not have a brain.
In order to convince the student that he is a human being with a functioning brain, you must have a program that relates to the student, that
speaks to him about his culture, his heritage, his contributions to society, and about the possible solutions to the problems and frustrations he
faces in this society.
Thus, as it evolved, the CRP became increasingly radical, shifting from a liberal
social service program, which charitably assisted students in the acquisition of
academic skills, to one with a more activist-oriented agenda, which placed
those skills in the service of social change. Rather than produce loyal citizenworkers for a Cold War political economy, CRP members sought to nurture
activist-intellectuals capable of returning to their respective communities to
fight for social justice. â€œIt isnâ€™t like anything Iâ€™ve ever known in an institution of
learning,â€ Hoover later observed:
We run the program like it is a family. People think that itâ€™s just a tutorial thing, that we help people to participate in the college and go on to
a 4-year program and thatâ€™s that. But what it really is is leadership training. We try to help people to see themselves as good, for the first time.
We say that first you have to get your head in the right place. We try to
change the studentsâ€™ whole value system towards themselves and their
communities, so they can help themselves and bring the help back to
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Mario Martinez, a young Salvadoran from San Franciscoâ€™s Mission District who
entered the program in 1967, recalled, â€œThis program was teaching us what the
system had been hiding from us. We started learning the truth about the system, and about our people. We started learning about our identity.â€14 John Brandon, an African American counselor in the program, captured this spirit in his
poem, â€œBirth of Black Power,â€ published in the programâ€™s newsletter, CRP News:
Standing in the middle of lifeâ€™s pool
I had the comfort of my blindfold snatched.
Tears raced from my paining eyes
at the startling light of my reflection.
But through the same strength
that survived the darkness
I regained my composure and
raised a determined Black Fist.15
By the summer of 1968, in both ideological and spatial terms, CRP students remained distinct and largely autonomous from the rest of the campus. The isolation on the margins of the campus, along with the shared experience of arriving at
the well-manicured CSM campus from different inner-city communities, facilitated a profound sense of unity among Black, Latino, and Asian students. Describing the feeling that was in the air at the Readiness Center, Manganiello explained:
The Program is so beautiful, at the beginning of this semester, at any
time of the day, when there were classes going on, you could go into the
Readiness Center and there would be four, five children being baby-sat
while their parents were [in] class. So the program really reached out
and said, in a sense, that you were a member of a family. In a very real
sense, the program was with you 24 hours a day. We all became friends
[and] there were social gatherings together. We pretty much depended
upon one another and on the program for the survival of our academic
careers. . . . The college just simply is not prepared to help anyone; itâ€™s
this sink or swim type of rationale that theyâ€™re very proud of.16
For the first time, Black, Asian, and Latino students, previously isolated from
one another in their respective neighborhoods, now came together, worked
within a new social space, and discoveredâ€”in the processâ€”their common experiences of poverty, racial discrimination, poor educational facilities, and police brutality. At an earlier point, these phenomena might have been interpreted
simply through the lens of oneâ€™s own historical or cultural experience; yet, as
students participated in the CRP and its fledgling ethnic studies courses, they
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 125
began to learn and link their histories together. In describing his evolving
worldview, Tony Martinez (Marioâ€™s younger brother) explained, â€œBefore, I was
never that close to black kids. Relating their problems to mine. Not only theirs,
but also yellow people, Indians, poor whites. This [program] gave me a further
understanding.â€17 As they collectively struggled to craft a â€œrelevantâ€ education
out of their college experience, CRP students articulated a distinctly Third
Worldist politics that stressed the principles of revolution, self-determination,
and Third World unity. Hanging on the walls of the Readiness Center, for instance, were posters of Ernesto â€œCheâ€ Guevara, Huey Newton, Mao Tse-tung,
and other Third World revolutionaries.18
The College Readiness Program nurtured a culture of resistance that was
contagious. â€œI could see how good the education was,â€ Mario Martinez remembered,
and I wanted my friends to get hip to this. With Ralph [Ruiz] I learned
about the struggle of our people, and he got me hip to some books and
literature. First we went to the library and we listened to some speeches
by Malcolm X and H. Rap Brown. I liked what they were saying. Then
Ralph started telling me about some books. I read some by John Gerassi and Frantz Fanon. And I started reading about Che. I got more interested in this than in the [actual] classes.19
Seeking to spread the knowledge, Mario then recruited family and friends from
the Mission District, such as Nelson Rodriguez and his own younger brother,
Tony. Soon thereafter, Rodriguez and Tony Martinez also began working with
Latino youth from the neighborhood. â€œThe philosophy of the College Readiness
Program . . . spoke to self-determination which is something our people lack,â€
Tony Martinez later recalled.
Itâ€™s been forgotten for a long timeâ€”not necessarily forgottenâ€”itâ€™s just
been that our people have been brainwashed for so long that they just
forgot how to act. We were training people to go back into the community and help our people. We take the Program into the community
and talk to the brothers and the sisters in the community and try to
recruit them so they can see that itâ€™s necessary to be educated.20
By 1968, the CRP had become an empowering and radicalizing space, suffused
with the same revolutionary values that animated Third World struggles across
the country and globe.
Ironically, the remarkable success of the College Readiness Program led to a
clash with the campus administration. Administrators supported the program
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in principle; yet, as CRP members recruited larger groups of nonwhite students
to CSM, racial tensions began to rise on campus. Moreover, the objective of recruiting distinctly working-class youth from regional inner-city communities
of colorâ€”such as East Palo Alto and San Franciscoâ€™s Chinatown and Fillmore
and Mission districtsâ€”complicated these tensions even further. For a campus
that had been predominantly white and upper class prior to 1965, the process
of racial integration raised one set of issues; with the introduction of so-called
brothers and sisters off the block, however, local residents and middle-class
white students faced an even more difficult time adjusting. In response, campus administrators moved the College Readiness Center progressively further
from the center of campus. In its second year, for instance, it was moved from
the basement of the administration building to a special section of the cafeteria
in the student union. One year later, in the summer of 1968, it was relocated
once again: this time to the margins of campus in the horticulture center.21
Of most concern to administrators was the evolving political character of
the program. As the CRP began to focus on the entire student, linking academic success to the larger societal context s/he fit within, students became increasingly politicized. The organizational philosophy rested on the assumption
that academic success or failure was tied to an entire range of external factors,
such as institutional racism and/or the systemic poverty produced by a capitalist economy, rather than some set of internal, often culturally determined, deficiencies. The political/pedagogical vision embodied in the CRP dialectically
bound the issue of educational achievement to the level of structural transformation occurring in society, simultaneously recognizing that educational
achievement itself formed a necessary component in that process of social
change. CRP members consequently connected their academic work to community activism. Students integrated, for instance, an elementary and high
school tutorial program with their on-campus activities. As with the student
movement at San Francisco State, CRP programming emphasized a â€œrelevantâ€
and transformative education. This notion, however, directly conflicted with
the central mission of Californiaâ€™s Master Plan, which relegated to community
colleges the task of producing skilled workers. To the disappointment of CSM
administrators, less than 3 percent of CRP students followed the vocational
track; instead, most focused their efforts on obtaining a liberal arts education
in order to eventually transfer to a four-year institution.22
Predictably, campus administrators had become progressively troubled by
the programâ€™s combination of academicâ€”rather than vocationalâ€”orientation,
dramatic growth, and radical political direction. The expansion of the CRP in a
few short years from a small tutorial program serving fewer than 100 Black
students, to one with a radical agenda working with nearly 600 students from a
variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, translated to greater fiscal demands
on the larger institution.23 At the heart of their growing concern was the ques-
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 127
tion of power: who controlled the program? By 1968, students essentially ran
the CRP. Though Hoover still functioned as the program director, he willingly
served at the pleasure of the students. Students in the CRP did the actual hiring
of tutors, developed the programâ€™s curriculum, and coordinated recruitment
efforts. For their part, Hoover and Wirth spent most of their time traveling
across the country soliciting the private donations and federal funding necessary to support student initiatives. Therefore, as the program grew in size and
scope, administrators increasingly came into conflict with the CRP over traditional bureaucratic issues such as academic standards and fiscal oversight. Due
to the movement politics of the program and its undeniable academic successes, administrators were unable to openly attack or dissolve the program.
Instead, a less explicit strategy was developed to reassert institutional control:
administrators focused on the programâ€™s budget. In the fall of 1968, this conflict came to a head.24
Financial crisis in the crP
In its origins, the College Readiness Program reflected the same liberal principles underlying other Great Society programs. In time, promises of access and
equality ran up against structural and financial limitations. At first, funding for
the CRP had been limited, dependent on the financial generosity of supportive
white faculty. After Time magazine published a complimentary story on the
CRP, federal funds gradually rolled in. In the end, the majority of the programâ€™s
funding came from a combination of private donations and matching funds received from the federal government. Only 5 percent of the CRP budget actually
came from the college. Yet despite the CRPâ€™s ability to secure federal funding,
the budget could not keep pace with the growing demands placed upon the program. In light of its expanding enrollment, the CRP remained chronically understaffed and underfunded. In the 1966â€“1967 academic year, although $10,000
had originally been budgeted for the program, expenditures ultimately totaled
$30,000. In 1967â€“1968, the CRP budget increased to $104,000. For the following
year, to meet its projected needs, it requested $180,000. In the summer of 1968, a
serious fiscal crisis arose when the financial aid office spent crucial funds earmarked for the CRP in the fall. With a heavy recruitment effort having been
made in the spring, the CRP now faced the responsibility of supporting 650 new
students in the fall with only $2,500. In August, Hoover and Wirth secured a
$150,000 grant from the federal government; it rested, however, on the CRPâ€™s
ability to raise matching funds from the local district.25
CRP officials, therefore, appealed to college administrators to raise funds for
the program. College officials voiced public support for the program, yet they did
little to generate funds. With a local bond initiative on the November ballot proposing the construction of two new campuses in the district, college administra-
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tors did not want to alienate voters with additional fundraising appeals.26 From
the vantage point of CRP members, both the Board of Trustees and the new CSM
president, Robert Ewigleben, appeared as if they were stonewalling, using the fiscal crisis to undermine the program. It was well known that the movement orientation of the Readiness Program concerned administrators. At the end of the
summer, for instance, the administration flatly refused to hire volunteer-tutor
Aaron Manganiello as a paid counselor. Ironically, the fiscal crisis did not seriously impact the leadership of the program (many volunteered their time anyway). Instead, the budget crunch would directly jeopardize the academic careers
of hundreds of new students arriving in the fall from East Palo Alto, East San
Jose, and San Franciscoâ€™s Hunterâ€™s Point, Chinatown, and Mission District.27
CRP members initiated an emergency fundraising drive themselves. Representatives from student government immediately stood behind the program.
In recognition of the vital role CRP programming played in relation to the recruitment and retention of students of color, the Student Council cut $28,000
from its own budget and transferred it directly to the program at the beginning
of the semester. Liberal faculty likewise showed their support for the program.
On October 2, for instance, one professor circulated a fundraising letter among
his colleagues inâ€”of all placesâ€”the Business Department. His letter reveals a
deeper rationale for supporting the CRP in its moment of crisis:
To say that the Readiness Program faces a crisis is an understatement.
. . . From a middle class, white point of view, the program appears to be
nothing but a series of crises. But need I remind you that:
1. We have had none of the disorder and rioting experienced at other
Bay Area campuses in spite of substantial enrollment of minority
students and activists;
2. The activist element of our student body is constructively engaged in
tutoring Readiness students at no pay [and] on the average of 15 hours
per week. At other campuses these activists are marching on administrations, engaging in sit-ins, burning police cars, and the like.28
Demonstrating a deep anxiety about racial rebellion, which informed many
liberal Great Society programs, this faculty member self-consciously connected
the CRP to the emergent radicalism within communities of color, especially
among African Americans. He viewed support for the CRP as a necessary preventive measure. To underscore this point, he concluded his funding appeal
with this condescending question: â€œArenâ€™t we engaged in teaching minorities
about their freedoms and how to use them constructively? Isnâ€™t this the right
way to overcome our fear of black power?â€29
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 129
Despite the efforts of sympathetic faculty and a supportive student government,
the crisis continued into the first week of October. In response, CRP students
and staff generated a series of non-negotiable â€œcrisis demandsâ€ and submitted
them to the office of the college president. In general, CRP students called for
the hiring of new counselors and the retention of existing counselors (specifically Aaron Manganiello and Asian American volunteer Pat Sumi), the hiring
of more Third World faculty, a reorganization of the financial aid office, and the
establishment of a Third World Studies Division. One week later, at the monthly
Board of Trustees meeting, supporters of the CRP pressed their case before 700
students, teachers, and district residents gathered in the campus gymnasium.
â€œMany of our people,â€ CRP co-director Hoover explained, â€œhave immediate financial needs. They need money to eat, money to pay rent. Weâ€™ve got to raise an
estimated $40,000 . . . or we will lose perhaps 200 students.â€ Hoover argued that
to recruit students of color from inner-city schools to the CSM campus, only to
leave them hanging, would have disastrous implications for the future of the
program. â€œIf we lose them,â€ Hoover added, â€œit will be extremely difficult for us
to go back into our communities to recruit students in the future. We will have a
credibility gap [and] they will never believe us again. The students we lose will
be saying, â€˜You got us up there on that campus, and then we were sold out.â€™â€
â€œThe heart of the problem,â€ he concluded, is that â€œthe commitment of college
resources has simply not kept pace with [the] growth [of the program].â€30
In response, Ewigleben suggested a two-week timeline in order to study the
underlying problems associated with the CRP. Francis W. Pearson, president of
the Board of Trustees, meanwhile sought to reassure CRP supporters, stating,
â€œWe feel that providing educational opportunities to minority students points
directly toward the ultimate solution of many of the serious problems that exist
in our country today [and] you may be certain we trustees are wholeheartedly
behind the Readiness Program and have been ever since we approved its establishment.â€ Yet while they declared their support for the CRP in principle, the
trustees also expressed their disapproval of how students addressed them.
Ewigleben put it most clearly: â€œWe will not be intimidated or coerced.â€ Hoover
counseled the administrators not to be offended by the word demands. Words
such as that were, he argued, â€œjust the student language of today, all over the
country. What we are really talking about is needs.â€ At the same time, Hoover
urged administrators not to â€œlet this just lead to study after study after study,
with no action; that would be the road to chaos.â€31 After two weeks, however,
the financial crisis continued, and nearly 150 students had already dropped
out, unable to support themselves in their studies.
On October 15, Black and Brown students from the CRP upped the ante,
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conducting a nonviolent sit-in at the administration building. After the building
was evacuated, the students chained the doors shut and announced that the
building was closed for business. Outside, police began arriving on campus. In
one instance, a police officer reportedly drew a gun on a protesting student. Despite episodes of police provocation, students maintained a peaceful protest.
Later in the afternoon, chains were taken off the door and the â€œnon-negotiable
demandsâ€ were read to the assembled crowd of students, staff, faculty, and
members of the media. â€œThe life of our program,â€ counselor John Brandon implored, â€œdepends on this issue.â€ Eventually, Ewigleben himself appeared before
the crowd and once again publicly pledged his support for the CRP, announcing
that his administration would do everything they could for the program. Then,
to defuse a potentially explosive situation, Ewigleben ordered the police off campus. It would not, however, be the last time they were called onto campus.32
Though the sit-in was relatively short-lived, it marked a turning point. It
revealed a widening polarization between the administration and students, as
well as a growing distance between postwar liberalism and an emergent Third
World radicalism. Though the administration once again responded favorably
to the general ideas contained in the studentsâ€™ demands, the level of student
militancyâ€”especially the notion of â€œnon-negotiabilityâ€â€”deeply offended their
liberal sensibilities. Process was vitally important to advocates of liberalism;
CRP students and staff, meanwhile, demanded an immediate solution. They
stressed the very real consequences arising out of the programâ€™s crisis. â€œWe
donâ€™t want to interfere with peopleâ€™s lives,â€ Mario Martinez explained after the
sit-in, â€œbut we are not going to give up our goals. For most of us, this is a question of survival.â€33 Indeed, with a large percentage of CRP students arriving
from (and after dropping out, returning to) poor, inner-city communities where
opportunities wereâ€”at bestâ€”extremely limited, the notion of â€œsurvivalâ€ was
not overblown rhetoric. The concept of â€œnon-negotiability,â€ therefore, emerged
organically out of a working-class, Third World sensibility. Rather than naÃ¯ve
militancy, the emphasis on non-negotiability instead reflected a principled political position born from an assessment of a communityâ€™s material needs. In an
attempt to articulate the rationale behind this concept, Manganiello asserted:
One of the things that hangs the administration up is the whole idea of
non-negotiable demands, when itâ€™s obvious that what we could do is sit
down and write another five demands: we want a swimming pool in
every classroom, we want grass [marijuana] for our P.E. classes, and
then we could say we were ready to negotiate with them and throw
away those five extra demands after the first fifteen minutes. But we
arenâ€™t playing those kinds of games; these are our basic needs and we
canâ€™t play those kinds of games with respect to them. And they donâ€™t
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 131
The concept of non-negotiability, which infused many Third World political
struggles of the 1960s, directly contradicted the principle of political pragmatism that underlies much of US political culture, whether conservative or liberal. Where Third World students operated with the goal of obtaining the â€œbasic
needsâ€ of their communities, administrators focused on how to best negotiate
the â€œdemandsâ€ on behalf of an institution. For their part, CSM administrators
continued to respond with pleas for patience, rationality, and calm discussion.
On October 23, after weeks of lengthy meetings with his staff, President
Ewigleben finally issued a set of formal recommendations to the Board of Trustees. To the disappointment of CRP students and staff, it again contained more
rhetoric than actual substance. In terms of the demand to reorganize the financial aid office, the president cited the need for further study, instructing his dean
of student services to conduct â€œa thorough examination . . . to determine what
reorganization . . . would be most appropriate for meeting the needs of all of our
students.â€ Likewise, he suggested that the administration ought to â€œseek fundsâ€
for additional counselors, but he did not indicate how or when that activity
might take place. He agreed to hire Pat Sumi, an Asian American tutor, but
made no reference to Aaron Manganiello, whose hiring the CRP students had
specifically demanded. And in relation to the student demand for a Third World
Studies Division, he â€œreferredâ€ the matter to the Committee on Instruction â€œfor
further study and recommendation.â€ Hooverâ€™s fear, voiced earlier, of â€œstudy after study after study, with no actionâ€ appeared to be coming true.35
Ewiglebenâ€™s official remarks to the Board of Trustees revealed a liberal desire to chart a middle road between conservative and radical constituencies.
First, speaking to those backing the CRP, Ewigleben conveyedâ€”once againâ€”
his support for the program, considering its recruitment and retention efforts as
reflective of the best values embodied in postwar liberalism: â€œIf our society is to
overcome the most serious domestic problem that besets it, the doors of colleges
such as this must be wide open, the energies we possess must be directed, in fair
measure, toward helping the so-called disadvantaged become advantaged.â€ In
response to those who charged the administration with pursuing â€œdelaying tactics,â€ he noted, â€œMore man-hours of time has gone into seeking a solution to this
problem than probably any other instance in the history of the college. . . . I
would hate to try to add up the additional hundreds of hours that have been devoted by all of usâ€”administrators, faculty, students, and board members
alikeâ€”to various aspects of this situation.â€ CRP students and staff, by this point,
were less interested in the number of â€œman-hoursâ€ devoted to discussions than
they were in the number of actual dollars to be finally disbursed to fund the
program, its students, and the development of a Third World Studies Division.36
Ewiglebenâ€™s speech also sought to reassure conservative elements at CSM
and in the surrounding community by respondingâ€”in a direct and forceful
mannerâ€”to the mounting militancy among Black, Latino, and Asian American
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students. Though intermixed with idealistic appeals for â€œrationality,â€ the principles of â€œdemocracy,â€ and the goal of serving â€œeveryoneâ€ on campus, he served a
clear warning to those organizing on behalf of the program. He informed those
First, to let our students know, in no uncertain terms, that change here
is not going to be affected by threats, intimidation or coercion. Change
is only going to occur through orderly, democratic process. . . . Any
other approach simply will not be tolerated. . . . I am not interested in
trying to run a one-man show on this campus. I am interested in
strengthening an institution where everyone contributes to educational
gain, and everyone shares in the benefit of that gain.37
Though Ewigleben publicly denied wishing to â€œrun a one-man showâ€ on campus, in the end, his desire to avoid the political turmoil simmering on other
Bay Area campuses led him exactly in that direction.
In the aftermath of Ewiglebenâ€™s recommendations, the CRP struggled to keep
students of color in school. The administration, meanwhile, embarked on a
new campaign to suppress activist elements within the program. Certain students, such as Ralph Ruiz and Nelson Rodriguez, were suspended from CSM
for their participation in the October sit-in. Offering insight into just how interrelated Third World student radicalism had become in the Bay Area by late
1968, Ruiz and Rodriguez simply enrolled at SFSC and continued organizing
as members of that campusâ€™s Third World Liberation Front, which was about to
begin its own bitter, prolonged student strike for ethnic studies. For those remaining at CSM, a wave of firings hit the CRP, designed to purge politics from
the program. After hiring Pat Sumi as a CRP counselor, the administration
terminated her employment three weeks later after learning that she had participated in a GI Peace March. Stunned by this turn of events, CRP students
then suggested an alternative: Ben Lazzada, a recent recipient of a masterâ€™s degree in Latin American history. After the administration discovered he had
been active in supporting the grape boycott led by the United Farm Workers
(UFW), he too was rejected. The most controversial move the administration
made, however, related to the employment of Hoover and Manganiello.38
On October 24, after the administrationâ€™s refusal to hire him, CRP students
and staff had asked Manganiello to continue his volunteer work for as long as
he could afford to do so. Nevertheless, CSM officials were determined to remove him from campus politics once and for all. On October 30, Hoover received a formal memo from Ewigleben requesting that Manganiello not be
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 133
allowed to â€œparticipate in any aspects of the College Readiness Program conducted on this campus.â€39 Hoover affirmed the student-administered nature of
the program, replying with his own memo: â€œWe have asked Mr. Manganiello to
do volunteer work in the College Readiness Program as long as he can afford
to. Until we receive some proof that [he] is damaging our program, the request
that Mr. Manganiello be removed . . . is denied.â€ Then, indicating something of
the spirit animating the CRP, he signed the memo: â€œYours in Revolution, Robert Hoover.â€40 The next day, the Board of Trustees angrily responded with its
own memo; this time, instead of being asked, Hoover was ordered to prevent
Manganielloâ€™s participation â€œin any aspect of the College Readiness Program.â€
Again, Hoover refused to comply.41
In response, the CSM administration suspended Hoover for insubordination. Hoover distributed an open letter to the CSM community, in which he
defiantly expressed a politics of Third World unity:
The involvement of Aaron Manganiello in the Readiness Program has
become much more than just the hiring of another counselor or of another volunteer offering his services to the program. Aaron Manganiello is a person of color. I am a person of color. . . . As a person of color, I
cannot stand by and watch another person of color not hired or removed
from a voluntary position for no reason whatsoever. . . . In his two
months of volunteer work, Aaron has more than demonstrated his ability to relate to students in the program and to do the kind of counseling
required. I cannot be ordered to change my mind. I must be given a
logical reason to change my mind. â€œNo more shufflinâ€™ and scratchin.â€™â€42
Supporters of the CRP quickly rallied to the defense of Hoover and Manganiello. Black faculty on campus, for instance, submitted a formal letter to Ewigleben stating that â€œHooverâ€™s commitment has been exemplary and his integrity
unassailable.â€ Furthermore, they alluded to the consequences such repressive
actions might bring, warning that â€œif any single staff member is suspended and/
or dismissed for refusing to act blindly, then no person can be held responsible
for either his actions or his reactions.â€ On November 4, Hooverâ€™s suspension
Despite Hooverâ€™s return to work, throughout November the administration continued its policy of silencing CRP activists. â€œIn the time they were supposed to be working to meet our demands,â€ Mario Martinez later recalled,
â€œthey had people in courts, they had people in jail, they were kicking all the
student leaders out, they were dividing people, they were expelling people.
Most of our meetings they had taped. The other ones, they had infiltrators and
spies.â€44 On November 24, a few days following a campus rally in support of the
CRP and the UFW grape boycott, members of the San Mateo County Sheriffâ€™s
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Department arrested Manganiello at his home for violating a court order that
had prohibited his entry onto campus.
Manganielloâ€™s arrest generated little protest from CSM faculty and staff. â€œIt
seems as though on the night I was arrested,â€ he lamented, â€œI heard classroom
doors slamming in unison and saw young liberal professors wiping the sweat
off their brows saying to themselves: â€˜Whew! They took him away. Good. Now I
can get back to the orderly task of teaching again.â€™â€ From his jail cell, he delivered a blistering critique that tied their political apathy directly to the character
and function of higher education in the United Statesâ€”the same qualities that
the CRP had been working to transform:
You have been academically trained. You know what that means? It
means that as a sociologist or anthropologist you know how to walk
around places where people are starving, where little babies have swollen bellies, and families die off at abnormally early ages, and then youâ€™re
trained to sit down and write about it and get awards for it and talk
about it in class.45
Rather than adhere to the traditional principles of objectivity and detached
scholarship, Manganiello suggested that faculty instead â€œPut controversy right
in the middle of academia where it belongs.â€ Drawing upon the same pedagogical philosophy of the CRP, Manganiello encouraged an alternative model,
one that stressed action as much as theory, social engagement in conjunction
with philosophical reflection. He issued this challenge:
All you guys who shed a tear when Martin Luther King was killed, all
of you who talk about him with reverence and respect, I want to see the
sores on your feet from walking picket lines. I want to hear your voices
hoarse from singing freedom songs. I want to see the lumps on your
heads from being beaten, your jail records. . . . There will come a day in
this country when we will be judged by our arrest record.
Predictably, he was ignored.46
Manganiello never again worked with CRP students at CSM; a permanent
court injunction barred him from any further participation with the CRP. Resigning his position as Brown Berets Minister of Education in 1969, due largely
to their hostility toward Marxism, Manganiello continued his political work by
founding a community-based educational institution in Redwood City called
Venceremos College, premised on the very same pedagogical principles promoted by the CRP. Later, he became an influential advisor to the radical organization that emerged from the defense committee for Los Siete de La Raza, in
San Franciscoâ€™s Mission District. Yet if CSM administrators anticipated that
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 135
removing key individuals from campus would somehow calm the tense situation at CSM, they were sorely mistaken.47
Third world liberation Front
In response to the campaign of repression waged by campus administrators, as
well as the stalled progress on meeting the studentsâ€™ initial demands, CRP
members reissued their demands under the auspices of a new organization: the
Third World Liberation Front (TWLF). On the one hand, they sought to divert
attention from the CRP as the organizational locus of student activism and toward a broader, less institutionally bound bloc of activists. More importantly,
activists of color sought to link their local struggle to other simultaneous Third
World student struggles, such as those at San Jose State College, Berkeley, and
(most significantly) San Francisco State College. The College of San Mateo became, in the process, another battleground, another political front in a larger
Third World student movement rippling across the Bay Area. As Hoover had
warned in his memo, there would be â€œno more shufflinâ€™ and scratchinâ€™â€ on the
part of the TWLF.
In the reformulatedâ€”and still non-negotiableâ€”demands, the TWLF expressed itself in a more articulate, less ad hoc fashion, providing a specific rationale for each demand. Taking direct aim at the CSM Office of Financial Aid,
TWLF members now flatly declared:
The College of San Mateo is a racist institution. Within this institution
there are approximately 1,300 Third World students. Serving these and
other students is a racist financial aid office. Applicants for financial aid
are primarily Third World students. For this reason we feel that the director of the financial aid office must be also of the Third World, both in
color and philosophy.
Significantly, the TWLFâ€”not content with simply putting â€œa nonwhite face in
a high placeâ€â€”did not urge the recruitment of just any person of color; instead,
members demanded campus staff who openly embraced the same radical Third
World perspective and philosophy operating in the College Readiness Program. The remaining demands, therefore, dealt specifically with the CRP and
the future creation of a Third World Liberation Division. Within these two institutions, TWLF members hoped that a Third Worldist praxis might be further nurtured and promoted on campus. The first four demands, they reasoned,
are all addressed to the self-determination of Third World people, which
has historically been denied [to] people of color by white America. The
first demand states that a Third World Liberation Division is necessary
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at CSM. . . . In demand no. 2, the Third World Liberation Division must
operate outside the realm of the white administration, as white institutions and authority are the root of the problems and injustices involved.49
In contrast to the students at San Francisco State or Berkeley, members of the
TWLF at CSM did not call for the creation of separate departments under the
rubric of a Third World College (i.e., Black, Chicano, Asian American, and Native American studies). As mentioned earlier, intense experiences of solidarity
within the CRP helped forge a strong Third World identity, thereby contributing to a demand for a single, inclusive Third World Liberation Division. Moreover, by calling for an explicitly named Third World Liberation Division, the
San Mateo TWLF sought a formal integration of revolutionary politics into the
curriculum. Again, informed by their previous experience in the radical space
of the CRP, students differentiated (as Manganiello had in his critique of higher
education) between a Third World Liberation Division, premised upon a revolutionary praxis, and an ethnic studies program that mimicked the philosophy
and pedagogy of traditional academic departments.
In addition to calling for the conferral of an official associate of arts degree
in Third World Liberation, the TWLF at CSM envisioned a Third World Liberation Division run exclusively by and for Third World communities. This
fourth demand stipulated that the Third World Liberation Division (faculty,
staff, students, and larger Third World community) would â€œhave the sole power
to hire faculty and control and determine the destiny of its division.â€ In light of
the immediate struggle on campus, the TWLF extended this demand to include the College Readiness Program. Outlining the argument for Third World
autonomy, they explained:
Since its conception, the College Readiness Program has had to undergo
a constant struggle for survival. The Board of Trustees and the school
administration have taken it upon themselves to steer the Program in
any direction they see fit. For the Program to continue according to its
philosophy it is necessary for Program people and the Third World
community to have the sole power in controlling the Programâ€™s destiny.
. . . Again, it has been proven historically that white people cannot serve
Third World people in their best interest. How is it possible that a racist
power structure can relate to the people it is prejudiced against? They
have not and they cannot. The way is clear and the CRP has proved itâ€”
that the only way the white community can serve Third World people is
by giving them the power and the right to control their own destiny.
Until the Board of Trustees and this school administration is responsive
to Third World people, the power must be taken out of their hands.50
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Since early October, however, when the first series of ad hoc emergency demands had been formally submitted to CSM administrators, much had changed.
Black, Brown, and Asian American students went from requesting greater resources to fund a successful recruitment and retention program to now demanding power and self-determination. Likewise, the charged political climate
of the Bay Area, in which authorities feared that student struggles might eventually spill over into surrounding communities and produce major racial unrest,
gave shape to the administrationâ€™s official response.51
With racial tensions rising on campuses throughout the Bay Area, a once
supportive liberal faculty abandoned those fighting for the CRP. On December
12, the Governing Council of the Faculty Senate met to consider the demands
issued by the TWLF. â€œWith regard to the Third World Demands,â€ they stated
the Governing Council views with dismay the essentially irrelevant,
spurious, imitative, and shoddy nature of the demands as printed. It is
our opinion that the demands have little or no validity in theory or fact
at College of San Mateo.52
Two months prior, liberal faculty had lined up behind the CRP, its recruitment
and retention efforts, and the wider goal of building a â€œminority curriculumâ€;
by December, they had reversed themselves, concluding that the demands were
now â€œirrelevantâ€ with â€œno validity in theory or fact at College of San Mateo.â€
Surprisingly, despite a semester-long struggle at CSM around the same core issues, they added:
We view these demands as transparent tissue fabricated to provide the
weakest and most fragile support for a strike designed merely to copy
abjectly the studentsâ€™ strike at San Francisco State College. We see the
â€œdemandsâ€ as a phony attempt to copy the movement of minority students at San Francisco State.53
Connections were, indeed, made between activists at CSM and SFSC. As previously mentioned, members of the TWLF understood themselves to be part of a
larger community, a wider movement, which was rooted in a shared politics of
Third World liberation and transcended any particular campus or geographic
locale. Yet, contrary to the Faculty Senateâ€™s view that the demands at CSM were
facile imitations of events at SFSC, similarities between the two campuses reflected, instead, a growing recognition among students of color that racism
permeated every institution of higher education, in terms of Eurocentric curricula, discriminatory admissions procedures, and inadequate funding for re-
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cruitment and retention efforts. In other words, the demands sounded similar
because, at heart, the fundamental issues giving birth to them were identical.
CSM faculty and staff, however, sought to minimize these deeper issues by focusing on superficial similarities:
The students who might join a Third World Liberation Front organization on the campus have not yet taken the initiative to register as an
official club or organization, nor have they submitted intention to operate as an Ad Hoc group on this campus. It seems doubtful, then, that
these students have availed themselves of any of the avenues by which
groups on campus may seek reforms or effect changes.54
After two months of heated debate about the CRP on campus, it seemed disingenuous for administrators and faculty now to claim that students had not
â€œavailed themselvesâ€ of all proper â€œavenuesâ€ to bring about reforms.
Meanwhile, with much of the student leadership (more than thirty individuals) threatened with arrest, suspension, or expulsion, and liberal support
for the program waning, the CSM administration went on the offensive againâ€”
this time, striking at the CRP itself. At their December 11 meeting, the Board
of Trustees passed a series of measures with the intent to regain control of the
College Readiness Program and undercut its social base. A radical revision was
made to the collegeâ€™s admissions requirement. Students from other junior college districts would no longer be able to enroll at CSM. Though the debate was
couched in nonracial terms, the subtext clearly centered on all the workingclass youth of color arriving from East San Jose and the Fillmore and Mission
districts. Hooverâ€™s warning to the trustees that â€œthose affected most by this
policy will be students of colorâ€ fell on deaf ears. With the main constituency
of the College Readiness Program now targeted for exclusion from CSM altogether, the TWLF called for a student strike to support its demands and announced a rally to be held at the end of the week.55
On Friday, December 13, more than a thousand students gathered in front
of the administration building to support the TWLF demands and protest the
recent actions of the Board of Trustees. The rally started peacefully, but within
a short period of time, events turned violent. Roughly three hundred rightwing students wearing blue armbands, a symbol directly inspired by SFSC
President S. I. Hayakawaâ€™s â€œlaw-and-orderâ€ response to the student strike on
his campus, gathered on campus to harass TWLF members and disrupt the
rally. In the end, physical clashes broke out between white and nonwhite students. Having grown up in tough inner-city communities, CSM students of
color had little patience for racial epithets coming from white suburbanites. As
Mario Martinez later recalled events:
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Some white dudes were screaming while somebody was trying to speak,
saying â€œFuck you, nigger,â€ and all this. As soon as they called out that
word, they got downed. Somebody beat â€™em up. Then my brother Tony
was trying to speak and this other dude comes up and starts cussing
my brother out. So this black brother that was next to him just downed
him, too. . . . We went into Building 19 and the white dudes started
screaming, â€œYou rotten niggers,â€ and all this. One girl had a disagreement with this white dude about the strike and he kicked her. As soon
as he kicked her, about five black dudes jumped on him and really
messed him up. All these incidents got everybody in a bad mood. Then
somebody broke a window. Soon everybody started breaking windows
and turning things over.56
Shocked at the dayâ€™s events, administrators went on the offensive in the local
media, characterizing the TWLF as â€œa mob of shrieking militants, armed with
metal pipes and wooden canesâ€ who were determined to go on a â€œwild rampageâ€ across campus. â€œI donâ€™t know whether [the rioters] wanted to kill or destroy,â€ Ewigleben gravely declared, â€œbut the last thing they wanted today was
to open up communication.â€ In reporting on the dayâ€™s events, neither the media nor campus administrators ever referred to the racist hecklers at the
TWLF rally. Instead, as if to impress on the publicâ€™s mind the real source of
the problem, the administration took members of the media on a tour of the
Readiness Center, paying particular attention to the posters of Che, Mao, and
The following Monday, Ewigleben and the CSM administration kept the school
open but implemented a new hard-line policy. At an emergency meeting of the
Faculty Senate, â€œoverwhelmingâ€ support was given to â€œuse whatever force is
necessaryâ€ to maintain order. â€œWe have to demonstrate to everyone,â€ Ewigleben announced, â€œto colleges across the nation, that a firm stand must be taken.â€
Conservative students, wearing Hayakawaâ€™s symbolic blue armbands, rallied
behind the liberal Ewigleben by forming United Students for Order. Within
this new context, Ewigleben went after CRP leadership again; this time, he experienced little opposition.58
On Monday, December 16, Hoover was transferred out of CRP and into
another campus department, while the CRP was placed directly under administration control. In an interview in early 1969, Hoover offered his perspective
on the underlying origins of the hostility of campus administrators toward
Third World students in the CRP:
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They donâ€™t understand or know anything about the program, the students and their problems, or what is happening in communities of people of color. The days are gone when college administrators can tell
people of color to sit around and wait for the next government study or
program before they can get an education. And the days are gone when
administrators can dictate to students what is best for them. It threatens them when people of color stand up and say that we can think for
ourselves, we have imagination, and can deal with our own situation.
CRP is a program where the students participate in the decisions that
affect our lives by setting up their curriculum, and choosing tutors and
staff. The insistence of people of color for self-determination threatens
them, and students who have their minds on learning about their situation and how to relate to their society threaten them even more.59
Hoover, like Manganiello, never again worked in the CRP. Instead, he established
an alternative, community-based educational institution in East Palo Alto called
Nairobi College, a â€œsister schoolâ€ to Manganielloâ€™s Venceremos College.60
With the new hard-line policy at CSM, the campus became a virtual police
state. Free speech was curtailed, as public rallies were banned and outside
speakers were expressly prohibited from campus. Following the events of December 13, Ewigleben and others frequently made reference to mysterious automobiles bearing TWLF bumper stickers from San Francisco State. As a
result, local police established checkpoints at every campus entrance, requiring
everyone to show proper identification before admittance. Police were stationed across the entire campus, outside classrooms and in the student union,
while helicopters hovered overhead.61 Though administrators rationalized
these new policies as a specific means to contain campus violence, CRP/TWLF
activists took a wider view of events, with an eye toward their underlying function. Echoing Hooverâ€™s analysis, Warren Furutani commented:
Law and order have come to CSM. . . . The CSM administrators have
learned from Hayakawa the value of getting rid of leaders. But people
of color want to change an immobile institution. They want classes
where each groupâ€”black, Mexican, Oriental, American Indianâ€”can
learn its own true history in this country, not the history of the white
ruling class. CSM and SF State and all the campuses of the world have a
common causeâ€”self-determination. And the administrators of all
these institutions have a common causeâ€”to prevent self-determination, in order to prevent their authority and power from being threatened. They do this by withholding funds to programs run by liberals
who want students of color to learn to read and write but donâ€™t care
what they read and what they write.62
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 141
With Hoover finally removed from the program, campus administrators aggressively pursued individual students. In the end, eleven student activists
faced criminal charges arising out of the December 13 rally.
The combined legal and police repression destroyed the TWLF and crippled the CRP. While much of the leadership became entangled in legal proceedings or faced expulsion, nearly 200 students of color left the campus
entirely, â€œdisgusted with all the hassle over financial aid, the high school attitudes of the administration, and the racism of students and faculty.â€ Furutani
continued, â€œThey are saying â€˜fuck it,â€™ and have gone back to the streets, where
they came from. They were promised financial aid and a chance for an education and the promises were broken.â€ Others transferred to City College of San
Francisco or became embroiled in the ongoing student strike at San Francisco
State. A few managed, however, to stay on campus and attempted to rebuild a
devastated CRP the following spring semester. Despite official changes in campus admission procedures, CRP, now under strict CSM supervision, still recruited students from inner-city communities. But, as Furutani explained,
The students who remain in the program will apparently be functioning as usual. But donâ€™t be mistaken by their smiles. What to you might
be a look of satisfaction is to them a mask to hide their true feelings. If
you look into their eyes, look deep, because equality is on the way, even
though they know itâ€™s going to be a long, long struggle.63
For many youth of color, that struggle continued elsewhereâ€”most often back
in their working-class communitiesâ€”as the Black, Brown, Yellow, and Red
Power movements flourished. They returned to the grassroots, however, armed
with organizing experience and a Third Worldist orientation shaped by their
struggle at CSM.
Despite the tumultuous fall semester, the university implemented an Ethnic
Studies Division at CSM the following academic year. While falling far short of
the radical program imagined by the TWLF, it became an important space for
students of color to learn about themselves and society. In his recommendation
to the Board of Trustees, Ewigleben summarized the lesson that he had learned
from the previous semester:
There is talk of revolution in our land today, and it is not idle talk. The
glowing coals of the fire are there and clearly visibleâ€”in the rage of minorities who have been too long oppressed, in the hunger and the despair of the poor, in the disenchantment of men and women, young and
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old, who believe America is betraying its destiny and its heritage. Perhaps, in time, these coals could burst into flame through the process of
self-combustion. Perhaps not. We think what we pose here is one meaningful alternative to the growing misunderstanding that confronts all
men in society. It is my intention in proposing the Ethnic Studies Division to stimulate a form of ethnic awareness and consciousness, which
will generate concern for the brotherhood of humanity.64
Today, public higher education in Californiaâ€”from the community colleges
to the California State University and University of California systemsâ€”faces
the most severe budget cutbacks in its history, placing a college degree further
out of reach for working-class students. This occurs at the same moment that
students of color (Latinas/os, in particular) have emerged as a demographic majority of the stateâ€™s college-age population. One is left to wonder if much stronger
medicine than Ewiglebenâ€™s liberal, multicultural framework will be necessary to
achieve social and racial justice. Instead, in this moment of crisis for both higher
education and democracy in the state of California, we might consider what an
ethnic or Latina/o studies programâ€”developed along the radical praxis of the
CRP/TWLFâ€”could accomplish, if its students and faculty were organically tied
to working-class communities and grassroots social movements.
1. Office of the President, â€œRecommended Establishment of an Ethnic Studies Division,â€
June 12, 1969, Social Protest Collection, box 23, folder 42 (College of San Mateo), Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley [hereafter cited as Social Protest/CSM].
2. Eldridge Cleaver, â€œEducation and Revolution,â€ Black Scholar, November 1969, 51.
3. Tanya Schevitz, â€œS.F. State to Mark 40th Anniversary of Strike,â€ San Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 2008.
4. Arlene Eisen Bergman, â€œTerrorism and Reform,â€ The Movement, February 1969, 8, 19.
5. Jane Franklin, â€œRepression Closes Door,â€ Peninsula Observer, December 9, 1968, 7; Arlene Eisen Bergman, â€œOakland Brown Berets,â€ The Movement, December 1968, 19; H. Bruce
Frankin, â€œBurning Illusions: The Napalm Campaign,â€ in Against the Vietnam War: Writings
by Activists, ed. Mary Susannah Robbins (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers,
1999); Donna (James) Amador, interview with author, tape recording, July 25, 2002; Maria
Elena Ramirez, interview with author, tape recording, May 31 and June 14, 2002.
6. Roger Alvarado, interview with author, tape recording, July 29, 2002. For a fuller discussion of Third World radicalism in the Bay Area, see Jason Ferreira, â€œAll Power to the People: A Comparative History of Third World Radicalism in San Francisco, 1968â€“1974â€ (Ph.D.
diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2003).
7. â€œReport on the College Readiness Program,â€ Fall 1968, Social Protest/CSM. As we will
see, part of this surge in enrollment of Latina/os, African Americans, and Asian Americans
into Californiaâ€™s community colleges resulted from the specific recruitment efforts of Third
World activists; yet, another significant source was structural: that is, the Master Planâ€™s reorganization of higher education in California systematically funneled working-class youth
away from the UC and CSU systems toward community colleges.
8. For information on the subsequent political activities of Pat Sumi and Warren Furutani, see â€œAn Interview with Pat Sumiâ€ and â€œAn Interview with Warren Furutaniâ€ in the historic collection of early Asian American studies essays published by Amy Tichiki et al., in
From College Readiness to Ready for Revolution! | 143
Roots: An Asian American Reader (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1971),
253â€“263, 335â€“340. Also illuminating is Ryan Masaaki Yokota, â€œInterview with Pat Sumi,â€ in
Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment, ed. Steve Louie and Glenn Omatsu (Los
Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2001), 16â€“31. For Los Siete de La Raza and
Raza radicalism in the Bay Area, see Marjorie Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property: The Story of Los
Siete de La Raza (Berkeley: Ramparts Press, 1972), and Ferreira, â€œAll Power to the People,â€
9. â€œReport on the College Readiness Program,â€ Fall 1968.
10. â€œInterview with Aaron Manganiello: College of San Mateo Is Not Ready,â€ Open Process, January 8, 1969, 4â€“5, 10.
11. Franklin Pearce, â€œA Study of Academic Success of College Readiness Students at the
College of San Mateoâ€ (unpublished report, Office of Student Research, 1967), qtd. in Heins,
Strictly Ghetto Property, 100. Corroborating information can also be found in â€œReport on the
College Readiness Program,â€ Fall 1968, 7; â€œInterview with Aaron Manganiello,â€ 10.
12. Research Organizing Cooperative, Basta Ya! (n.p.). Emphasis in original.
13. Toni Gray, â€œHoover Discouraged,â€ Peninsula Observer, January 20â€“27, 1969, 6. Emphasis added.
14. â€œBasta Ya! (An Interview with Los Siete),â€ The Movement, November 1969, 9.
15. John Brandon, â€œBirth of Black Power,â€ College Readiness Program News, November
26, 1968, 9.
16. â€œAn Interview with Aaron Manganiello,â€ 4.
17. Tony Martinez, qtd. in Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 95.
18. â€œInterview with Aaron Manganiello,â€ 10.
19. Mario Martinez, qtd. in Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 96.
20. â€œBasta Ya! (An Interview with Los Siete),â€ 9â€“12.
21. â€œReport on the College Readiness Program,â€ Fall 1968.
22. Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 99â€“101; â€œBasta Ya! (An Interview with Los Siete),â€ 9â€“12.
23. â€œFacts on Negligence of the Administration at the College of San Mateo,â€ (typed
mimeo, n.d.), Social Protest/CSM; â€œReport on the College Readiness Program,â€ Fall 1968.
24. Kent Hudson, â€œMinorities Program Strangled at CSM,â€ Peninsula Observer, December 9, 1968, 6, 17; â€œHoover Interviewed,â€ Peninsula Observer, January 6â€“13, 1969, 5.
25. â€œInterview with Aaron Manganiello,â€ 10. Annual budgetary statistics are also qtd. in
Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 107.
26. â€œMinutes of a Joint Meeting between the Faculty Senate and Administration,â€ October 16, 1968, Social Protest/CSM, 6.
27. Students of color arriving onto campus were expected to live on $40 per month. Hudson, â€œMinorities Program Strangled at CSM,â€ 6.
28. Internal memo, Charles F. Grant to Business Division Colleagues, October 2, 1968,
Social Protest/CSM, 1.
29. Ibid., 2.
30. College Readiness Program, â€œStudent Demands for the Needs of the College Readiness Program,â€ typescript, n.d., Social Protest/CSM; news briefing, San Mateo Junior College
District, October 10, 1968, Social Protest/CSM, 2.
31. News briefing, San Mateo Junior College District, October 10, 1968, 2.
32. â€œCRP Seizes Ad Building as Board Delays Response,â€ The San Matean 92, no. 5 (October 18, 1968): 1. An accompanying photo shows Ralph Ruiz and others speaking to a group of
assembled CSM students.
33. Mario Martinez, qtd. in Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 110â€“111.
34. â€œInterview with Aaron Manganiello,â€ 4â€“5.
35. Ewiglebenâ€™s specific recommendations emerged out of a formal proposal he submitted
to members of the Faculty Senate one week earlier. See â€œMinutes of a Joint Meeting between
the Faculty Senate and Administration,â€ October 16, 1968.
36. Ibid., 2â€“4.
37. Ibid., 2.
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38. â€œInterview with Aaron Manganiello,â€ 10; â€œInterview with Pat Sumi,â€ Roots, 254â€“255.
39. Robert L. Ewigleben to Robert Hoover, October 30, 1968, Social Protest/CSM.
40. Robert Hoover to Robert L. Ewigleben, October 31, 1968, Social Protest/CSM.
41. Francis W. Pearson Jr. to Robert Hoover, October 31, 1968, Social Protest/CSM.
42. â€œAn Open Letter from Bob Hoover,â€ November 1, 1968, Social Protest/CSM. Emphasis added.
43. Flyer, â€œOn the Reinstatment of Robert Hoover, Director of the College Readiness Program,â€ November 1, 1968, Social Protest/CSM; Robert L. Ewigleben to Robert Hoover, November 4, 1968, Social Protest/CSM.
44. Mario Martinez, qtd. in Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 113.
45. Aaron Manganiello, â€œTo the CSM Staff,â€ Peninsula Observer, December 9, 1968, 16.
47. Amador, interview with author. For more on the history and pedagogical orientation
of Venceremos College, see Aaron Manganiello, â€œVenceremos: A Political Critique on SelfDetermined Third World Education,â€ typescript, n.d., Chicano Studies Library (Vertical File),
University of California, Berkeley.
48. Third World Liberation Front, â€œThird World Demands,â€ mimeo, n.d., Social Protest/
CSM, 2. Emphasis added.
51. David Ransom, â€œWill Strike Spread Thru City,â€ Peninsula Observer, December 9,
1968, 3, 13. For an appreciation of how widespread campus activism was in the state of California during this limited time frame, review the Peninsula Observer (Special Edition: Education in California), February 16â€“23, 1969. Some of the campuses covered are CSM, Stanford,
San Francisco State College, Berkeley, California State College at Los Angeles, Chico State,
Long Beach State College, as well as a number of local high schools.
52. Report of the Faculty Senate, â€œAction of the Governing Council of the College of San
Mateo Faculty Senate,â€ December 12, 1968, Social Protest/CSM.
55. Arlene Eisen Bergman, â€œTerrorism and Reform,â€ The Movement, February 1969, 8;
â€œFacts on Negligence of the Administration at the College of San Mateo,â€ typed mimeo,
n.d., Social Protest/CSM; circular flyer, Third World Liberation Front, â€œWho Is Being Violent?â€ n.d., Social Protest/CSM.
56. Mario Martinez, qtd. in Heins, Strictly Ghetto Property, 114.
57. â€œA Student Rampage at San Mateo College,â€ San Francisco Chronicle, December 14,
1968, 12; â€œSan Mateo Students Run Wild,â€ San Francisco Examiner, December 13, 1968, 4.
58. â€œMinutes of the Faculty Senate at the College of San Mateo,â€ December 13, 1968, Social Protest/CSM; â€œMateo College Will Hit Militants Hard,â€ San Francisco Examiner, December 15, 1968, 1; circular flyer and petition, â€œUnited Students for Order,â€ n.d., Social Protest/
59. â€œHoover Interviewed,â€ Peninsula Observer, January 6â€“13, 1969, 1, 15.
60. For more information on Nairobi College, see Jan Maltby, â€œNairobi College Tries to
Meet Third World Needs,â€ Peninsula Observer, July 14, 1969, 5; and Aaron Manganiello, â€œVenceremos: A Political Critique.â€
61. â€œControlled Campus at San Mateo,â€ San Francisco Examiner, December 14, 1968, 4;
â€œMateo College Will Hit Militants Hard,â€ 4; special bulletin from Robert L. Ewigleben, â€œAnnouncement: New Campus Regulations,â€ December 16, 1968, Social Protest/CSM.
62. Warren Furutani, â€œBroken Promises,â€ Peninsula Observer, January 27â€“February 3,
64. Office of the President, â€œRecommended Establishment of an Ethnic Studies Division,â€
June 12, 1969, Social Protest/CSM.