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2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the struggle to institute Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State.
We were doing a lot of outreach into the community—tutorial programs with students who were not doing well in public schools, and trying very hard to make what we were learning in college relevant to the issues and problems confronting our communities.Kimberly and Scott Roberts, with a video camera they bought for $20, document their harrowing struggle for survival against both the natural elements and the government’s appalling ineptitude.But what starts out as a story of two people stuck in New Orleans riding out the storm because they didn’t have money to leave, quickly turns into a story of towering heroism as people join forces to help each other.So my introduction to acting was as a social medium.As my work progressed, I came to see activism and art as integrally linked.And at this point, for me, much of that work is collaborative.
At Louverture Productions, for instance, we’re dedicated to collaborating with, mentoring, and supporting filmmakers from around the globe—including the United States.
As a student, I, along with a group of other young people from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences, was involved in bringing together what would become a powerful movement for transformation and change.
The coalition at that time was very broad: visionary and progressive white students involved in organizations like Students for a Democratic Society, black students from the Black Student Union, Hispanic students from La Raza, and The Third World Liberation Front.
It was a hard-fought struggle that would forever alter the educational landscape in the United States.
It resulted in the creation of the first black studies program and the first College of Ethnic Studies in the country.
The campus was closed down for several months as we organized to challenge the fundamental assumptions of the educational model that we were being required and forced to participate in. I remember seeing images of young people who were not that much older than me being beaten at lunch counters.