In 1968 and 1969 the Black Student Union, Third World Liberation Front, select staff and faculty, and members from the larger Bay Area community, organized and lead a series of actions against systematic discrimination. Protestors spoke out against lack of access, misrepresentation, and the overall neglect of indigenous peoples and people of color within the university's curriculum and programs. Their specific demands included the establishment of four departments - , American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Black Studies, and La Raza Studies within a College of Ethnic Studies. These demands 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 faculty, students, and staff of the college recognize and affirm the above founding principles through its fierce commitment to community engaged research and teaching, student leadership and activism, and self-determination through education. This affirmation includes respect for holistic and integrative educational models, epistemologies, ecologies, and world views of our diverse communities.