Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.
— Brought to you by —
Hank Oslo, Nick Mason, Alex Nicholson, and Lawrence Glarus
Any modern summary of the 1968-1969 student strikes at San Francisco State University will draw focus to the creation of the Ethnic Studies Department (ESD), but this outcome would have been far from obvious to a casual observer reading the paper. This is not to say that no-one could have predicted that the strike would win out, or that an ethnic studies department would be created, but that a casual observer might not even have known this was an issue or more importantly THE issue. Playing history forward, we see a sea of activist causes, power struggles, and holiness spirals ending in a negotiated surrender.
The narrative of this event plays out like much of the text of American history. The pattern plays out thusly: an issue which was extant but of questionable prominence is solved by a conflict. The conflict is then retroactively justified by the outcome. Such is the pattern. This story of conflict, indeed, like most political charged conflicts is the story of a power struggle. Behind the slogans, signs, riots and demands there was a push behind the scenes. It is difficult as with any event in history to trace a singular origin, but it’s clear there were a series of changes which enabled these eddies to form.