Student's Experience in Ethnic Studies: 'I Fell in Love with Learning about My Own History and Histories That Have Been Forgotten'

Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Black and white photo of hundreds of people raising their fists in the air on the SF State quad during 1968 student strike for ethnic studies
SF State's Black Student Union holds a rally for ethnic studies, circa 1968. Photo by Nacio Jan Brown

TIME -- Last month, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1460, a bill mandating an ethnic studies course requirement for all undergraduates in the California State University system, Alondra Esquivel Garcia felt a sense of relief. Garcia, who is a senior at San Francisco State University and a student leader in the Cal State Student Association, had not been exposed to ethnic studies until she stepped onto her college campus, but studying the subject had affected her deeply. Now, she hopes, more of her peers will have the same experience. “I fell in love with learning about my own history and histories that have been forgotten,” she says. “Other students will now get to take ethnic studies courses on their own campuses.”

But Garcia and other student activists are not satisfied with college students being exposed to ethnic studies. They have also been at the forefront of a movement to establish ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for all of California’s public-school students.