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On Strike! Shut it Down! (Exhibit 1999)

Case 1: Introduction


For five months, from November until March, during the academic year 1968-1969, San Francisco State College's campus rang out with the chant, "On Strike! Shut it Down!" Striking students gathered daily at the Speaker's Platform in the central campus area for a rally and then marched on the Administration Building to seek a hearing and redress for their grievances. In January, 1969, members of the faculty went on strike as a protest for their own grievances, as well as in support of student concerns. Demonstrations had been occurring on campus since Spring, 1967, involving many different people and groups.

Although it happened 30 years ago, the San Francisco State strike remains a landmark event in changing modern American higher education. The reasons for the strike remain multi-level and complicated. We have some idea of why things occurred, yet there are other situations for which we have very little knowledge. Although we have collected many artifacts and documents from the strike, we continue to receive new information which broadens our current perspective. Everyone will have his/her own opinion as to WHY the strike occurred. This exhibit, however, takes no one point of view. What follows is a presentation of the many facets of a complex set of events. Likewise, many strike-related activities had connections to local, national and world events. It is in this context that the exhibit is presented.

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