Saturday, November 12, 2022

"Unrest: The Founding of the Cal State University Northridge Chicana/o Studies Department" [documentary]

Institutional histories like that of Cal State Northridge (CSUN) featured here in this Wikipedia entry  are themselves interesting. Within these are micro-histories such as the story recounted here on the founding of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Departments that took place in 1969 in the tumult of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the late 1960s. It coincided with the founding of the Department of Africana Studies at CSUN.

It's interesting learning about how the department's first chair, the legendary Rodolfo "Rudy" Acuña, author of the classic Chicana/o Studies text, "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos," currently in its 8th edition,
leveraged full professor status on his way in and then wrote an extensive curriculum that the university approved and enjoys today. Much is owed to the beloved Dr. Rudy Acuña who is up in years, but still doing what he can to move the needle on our collective consciousness to make us critical consumers of knowledge and agents of change and transformation for a better world.

It's easy to take for granted the struggles for our education that took place long before any of us ever took our first step on the college campus simply because we're not educated or taught of the immense struggles and sacrifice undertaken by those before us—like the many activists featured in this film—so that we can take advantage, and make the best, of educational opportunities today.

detail of mural showing student and faculty protesters
Without a doubt, there is still much work to do in getting underserved communities into higher education. I think documentaries like these help us to understand both the barriers we continue to face today, but also the importance of advocacy and struggle for the education we want and deserve as communities without which our democracy  is diminished.

Check out the CSUN Chicana/o Studies Department page to learn more about the department.

Thanks to Dr. Tara Yosso for sharing this with me. Enjoy!

-Angela Valenzuela

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