In 1968, Firing of English Instructor George Mason Murray Helped Lead to SF State Strike

Thursday, July 30, 2020
Archival black and white photo of George Mason Murray teaching a class
George Mason Murray, Black Panther Party minister of education, taught English at San Francisco State College. Photo courtesy of the California State Library.

KQED-FM (SAN FRANCISCO) -- One of San Francisco State’s most influential anti-Vietnam War organizers was a popular English instructor named George Mason Murray. He also happened to be the minister of education for the Black Panther Party. Students loved Murray, but his outspoken politics were not tolerated by San Francisco State administrators.

“The war in Vietnam is racist,” Murray said in a televised press conference. “It is the war that crackers like Johnson are using Black soldiers and poor white soldiers and Mexican soldiers as dupes and fools to fight against people of color in Vietnam.”

The board of trustees forced San Francisco State’s president, Robert Smith, to fire Murray on Nov. 1, 1968. Five days later, the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front joined together and went on strike.