Third World Liberation Front (TWLF)
The Third World Liberation Front refers to student-led strikes in 1968 and 1969 by minority student groups first at the San Francisco State University, followed by the University of California, Berkeley. Specifically, the students were protesting the lack of student-controlled ethnic studies programs in their universities, and although violent, this period of conflict directly resulted in the creation of ethnic studies programs on both campuses.
Originally, protests had begun not due in particular to the lack of education opportunities, but because of racial actions occurring on campus. In June of 1967, students at San Francisco State University first publicly expressed their anger at the school sending students’ academic standing to the Selective Service Office, where information is collected on citizens potentially subject to being drafted. In the following school year, an editor on campus wrote a derogatory and insulting piece in the school paper, in turn causing many African American students to assault him in November 1967. Later, the Vietnam War also became a topic of protest. Students had specific wishes for change such as the hiring of minority faculty members, recruiting students from the ghetto, and ending the Air-Force ROTC program on campus. In March of 1969, representatives of the TWLF, the Black Students Union, and members of the Select Committee accepted a total of fifteen demands by the student organizations and signed an agreement, officially ending the strike on the 21st.
The 1969 student strikes had a lasting impact on schools across the nation and served as a model for other minorities and young people oppressed by various societal regulations. 30 years later, staying true to their core values, the TWLF reconvened on the UC Berkeley campus. At the time, the university was threatening the ethnic studies departments at all UC campuses. The peaceful protest organized by minority students was met with violence by the police and many injured students. One week later, hundreds of people officially began the 1999 Third World Liberation Front hunger strike. Finally, on the eighth day of the strike, the university agreed fully to seven of the eight student demands and conditionally to the eighth.
These strikes occurring throughout history on university campuses show the strength of solidarity and the power of Asian American and other minority students. The message of the TWLF is that people of color will not be oppressed and silenced by institutions and the students’ right to education will not be taken away from them. The impact of this powerful message and the struggles of students at the time can still be seen on university campuses and educational opportunities for minority students today.
Photo source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eqGjdF69n4
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