Students and staff celebrate 50 years of Ethnic Studies at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This week marks 50 years of Ethnic Studies at Fresno State, but getting here wasn't easy.

"There were professors that were fired, there were walkouts, demonstrations," described Professor of History DeAnna Reese of the early days of the curriculum. "There were a number of tense moments here on campus between students and administrators and also faculty."

Originally, students and staff wanted a curriculum that reflected the lives of every student at Fresno State, but over the next several decades there were tense times.

"We often times take for granted that these programs are here on campus," added Professor Reese. "Students take classes in them, but 50 years ago this was a struggle and it wasn't something the administration initially welcomed."

Originally a major all its own, ethnic studies now encompasses a wide variety of classes, certifications, majors and minors.

"It teaches them about themselves, it gives them a greater understanding of the world," added Reese. "The world is global and it's filled with so many different groups of people."

Kelsey, now a master's student in history at Fresno State, says the Ethnic Studies program is more relevant now than ever before.

"It's easy to forget your past," said Kelsey Bos. "Even with different cultures, it's easy to get swept up into what's happening now and forget where you or your friends and family came from."

Majors include Latin American, Asian American, Africana, Native American and Jewish Studies among others.
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