Jerry Wayne Varnado Ethnic Studies Scholarship Fund

Jerry Wayne Varnado Ethnic Studies Scholarship Established in Honor of 1968 Student Striker and BSU Co-Founder

Marilyn, Jerry W. and Jerry R. Varnado at the 2011 College of Ethnic Studies Anniversary

Jerry Wayne Varnado Ethnic Studies Scholarship Established in Honor of 1968 Student Striker and BSU Co-Founder

SF State’s College of Ethnic Studies is proud to announce the establishment of the Jerry Wayne Varnado Ethnic Studies Scholarship. The scholarship fund established by Jerry R. Varnado in honor of his father, Jerry Wayne Varnado, recognizes and provides an annual award of $6,000 ($3,000 per semester) to promising undergraduate students in the College of Ethnic Studies who are preparing themselves to be productive and socially conscious members of society.

Jerry Wayne Varnado received a BA in Economics from San Francisco State University in 1969 and later a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. As student at SF State, Jerry Wayne Varnado was involved with the Negro Students Association and co-founded the Black Student Union (BSU). In 1968, Jerry Wayne Varnado and his fellow BSU leaders in coalition with the Third World Liberation Front, other students, faculty, and community members organized the nation’s longest student strike to protest the lack of access, misrepresentation, and the overall neglect of indigenous peoples and people of color within the University’s curriculum and programs. The demands of the strikers reflected a respect for the diverse intellectual traditions and cultural expressions of scholars, activists, and artists of color and indigenous people throughout the United States.

The activism and sacrifices of Jerry Wayne Varnado and the strikers was the impetus for the founding of the College of Ethnic Studies with departments in Africana Studies (formerly Black Studies), American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, and Latina/o Studies (formerly La Raza Studies) in 1969. Their efforts enabled future generations of students at SF State to learn about the histories, cultures, and intellectual traditions of communities of color and indigenous peoples in the U.S. in the first-person and also practice theories of resistance and liberation to eliminate racism and other forms of oppression.

After completing his studies at SF State and his law degree, Jerry Wayne Varnado practiced law in the San Francisco Bay Area. He married Marilyn D. Varnado who received a BA in Sociology in 1977 and a Masters of Public Administration in 1985 from San Francisco State University. Jerry and Marilyn Varnado raised two sons, Jerry R. Varnado and Charles Varnado.


Learn more about Jerry W. Varnado in Trailblazing a Movement: An Interview with Black Student Union Co-founders Jerry Varnado and James Garrett by Mary Roaf in the Ethnic Studies Review (Fall 2019, Volume 42, Issue 2).

For more information on supporting the Jerry Wayne Varnado Ethnic Studies Scholarship or to learn how to establish a scholarship fund, please contact Alex Sanchez, Director of Development, at or (415) 338-1032.