Our vision of Ethnic Studies is to engage our students in a rigorous academic discourse, in order to enlighten, empower and transform our community to become critically conscious of our society.
Ethnic Studies was born out of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, in order to challenge and dismantle the inequalities and inequities faced by many students of color in the K-20 Educational system. Amid the 1960s, an era of the social transformation, college students of color in the California Bay Area, began to organize themselves to address the issues of representation on college campuses. Merritt Junior College was the first established “Black Studies” program, followed by San Francisco State University and then later at University of California, Berkeley. This change ranged from demanding faculty of color and more representative curriculum being taught to all students. They demanded a more critical holistic view to the American social, political and cultural history and literature of people of color. What sprang forth, was Ethnic Studies: “The interdisciplinary and comparative study of the social, cultural, political, and economic expression and experience of U.S. racialized ethnic groups and U.S. racialization⏤ together with the humanities and the social sciences potentially provided a matrix yielded clarification, accuracy, and connection among human difference” (Butler, 2001, p. 21). Ethnic Studies not only seeks to express the interdisciplinary approach to the historical reality of marginalized ethnic groups in the United States, but it also seeks to create structures and processes to improve the lives of people of color. Students learn of the activism of the past and use these lessons to improve their outcomes in life today, as “social justice” is the cornerstone of Ethnic Studies and to pursue and enact justice is to teach and learn Ethnic Studies. This fight for an educational curriculum that represents all peoples and histories in the United States continues today across classrooms throughout the United States, in places like Tucson, AZ to Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, CA to Coachella, CA.