Social Action: It’s in Our DNA

Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton of the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences has created a booklet focusing on the social action and justice legacy at San José State University, with an emphasis on students. The hope is that SJSU professors and staff will use this booklet to educate our students about this main thread that runs through our campus history. There are 10 short chapters in the booklet. They include:

  1. Edwin Markhum, “The Man With the Hoe”, and Tower Hall
  2. Japanese American Internment at the Men’s Gymnasium
  3. Chicano Commencement
  4. Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and the Statues
  5. Gaylord Nelson’s Earth Day and the Burying of a New Ford Maverick
  6. Re-establishment of the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP)
  7. Raise the Wage in San José
  8. Students for DMH and the Fight for Air Conditioning
  9. Donald Williams Jr. and Students For Racial Equality
  10. Social Action and Justice Today
  11. Appendix: A Living Document—Possible Additional Chapters

The readings include an overview of the major SJSU social action and justice events that have occurred on campus, as well as videos that can be used when teaching this material. The booklet’s themes focus on issues raised by Spartans, such as: American identity, economic rights (e.g., right to a living wage and a good education), environmental degradation, equality, human dignity, intersectionality, oppression, racism, and the role of protest in a democracy. With this legacy, it is not surprising that we have buildings named the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Yoshihiro Uchida Hall, and such monuments as the César E. Chávez Monument: Arch of Dignity, Equality and Justice and the Tommie Smith and John Carlos Sculpture Garden. Social action and justice is in San José State’s DNA.

The above chapters do not include every social action that has taken place at SJSU. The hope is that if someone wanted to add a chapter to this booklet, they would write it up in a similar format as the above chapters, and submit it to the office of Dean Walt Jacobs in the College of Social Sciences. The Dean’s office would approve well-researched chapters, and they would be added to the above chapters. In fact, several faculty have already put forward possible future chapters, and they appear in the appendix. Thus, this booklet becomes a living document of the social action and justice legacy at San José State.

The booklet is available for download in PDF format: Social Action: It’s in Our DNA.

if you have any suggestions about this work, please contact Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton.