April 24, 2009

April 24 Event Will Mark Era of “Lumumba-Zapata College”Activism

A 40-year commemoration of the days when student activists attempted to name the new third college on the University of California, San Diego campus as “Lumumba-Zapata College” will be held at 6 p.m. April 24 in the Cross-Cultural Center. The event is free and open to the public.

A number of emerti faculty members and students, all key players in the 1969 event, are expected to participate in the commemoration, planned as a component of UC San Diego’s month-long celebration of labor leader and human rights champion Cesar Chavez’s life and achievements.

“Although Lumumba-Zapata College was never created—becoming Third and eventually Thurgood Marshall College—the episode stands as a key chapter both in the history of UC San Diego and the history of educational reform,” noted Jorge Mariscal, professor of literature and chair of the Cesar E. Chavez Recognition Planning Committee. “The Lumumba-Zapata student demands foresaw many of the most pressing educational issues affecting communities of color that are still unresolved today.”

Among attendees at the commemoration will be former UC San Diego professor Arturo Madrid, who taught in Third College. Madrid went on to become founding president of the Tomas Rivera Center, the nation’s first institute for policy studies on Latino issues, and director of the Ford Foundation’s Graduate Fellowships Program. He is currently Norine R. and T. Frank Mur-chison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University in San Antonio, Tex.

Among emeriti UC San Diego professors expected to attend are Carlos Blanco and Joe Watson, while Roberta Alexander, San Diego City College professor; Ed Spriggs, UC San Diego associate vice chancellor and attorney Maria Blanco, Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley, will be among former student activists and original Third College staff attending.

Brief comments will be made by current UC San Diego students representing the Black Student Union, MEChA and the Student Affirmative Action Committee (SAAC).

As noted in Mariscal’s 2005 book, Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun, “In March of 1969 student activists from the newly-formed Mexican American Youth Association/Black Student Council coalition would dive directly into the struggle over higher education by intervening in the UCSD administration’s plans for a new third college. Planning for the college was well underway, but when provost-designate Armin Rappaport asked students for input on possible ethnic studies courses, the BSC/MAYA activists developed an elaborate program that eventually derailed all earlier plans. A key demand was that the college be named after Congolese revolutionary Patrice Lumumba and Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. The objective of the new college would be, as philosophy graduate student Angela Davis put it, ‘to provide Black and Brown students the knowledge and skills we needed in order to more effectively wage our liberation struggles.’ The coalition’s demands were presented to Chancellor William McGill on March 14, 1969 as the Lumumba-Zapata College, BSC -MAYA Demands for the Third College, UCSD.”

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