The United Front

The United Front

January – March, 1969


“The United Front stands committed to justice in its fullest sense. We will never compromise the interests of any oppressed peoples, realizing that the interests of any one group cannot be isolated and dealt with separately from the interests of all oppressed people. Disunity and factionalism serve the interests of the powerful and betray the interests of the oppressed…We are all in it together.”

February 2nd, 1969
The United Front


Following the North Hall Takeover on October 14th, 1969, the UCSB administration had yet to move forward with honoring any of the BSU’s demands. Three months passed before students rose, yet again, to push for necessary change on campus.

[United Front Forms at UCSB, The United Front, Box 28]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records. UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

On January 10th, members of the Black Student Union, United Mexican-American Students, and Students for a Democratic Society came together to form a “United Front” in the fight against administration. The BSU fought against racially charged police harassment on campus and the delayed development of an Ethnic Studies Program; UMAS submitted demands to the university for two years with no results; SDS sought to coalesce white radical efforts with minority issues. Each organization combined their grievances with the university to create the United Front, a joint student movement fighting for concrete administrative action.

The United Front demands built upon the original 8 North Hall Takeover and 5 UMAS demands and added 4 new ones reflecting recent issues on campus.

[Demands of the United Front, The United Front, Box 28]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records. UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

After presenting their demands to the administration, the administration requested to meet in private to discuss the status of their demands, but the United Front wanted an open discussion with all students. They held a public meeting in Campbell Hall, inviting the Chancellor to address these issues openly with the students.

(Jan. 1969, El Gaucho)

In a packed auditorium, student speakers brought to light repeated instances of administrative delay, saying, “…the administration tells us there are no FTE’s [full-time equivalency] in the ethnic studies major…they have the money to build a new football stadium…we have been lied to again”; “…our demands are not new…they have been presented over and over again…this university does not respond to our people”; “Our demands have been sent from one commission to another…nothing has been done…we want a commitment”. The Chancellor responded, saying, “I came to this meeting with a quite different impression of how it was going to be conducted. I thought I was going to make a few comments and answer questions. Fifty minutes have now gone…”. He then reiterated his position in support of minority students and said, “…we are moving as rapidly as we can in this direction, but we cannot move as fast as some of us would like to…We can’t set up programs and make proposals that do not have our hearts and our souls in them”. He remained for an hour of the hour-and-half discussion, leaving students disappointed with his comments. Full dialogue of United Front Conference Link

Following this event, the United Front agreed to engage in private conversation with administration to move forward with their demands.

(Feb. 1969, El Gaucho)

. The Assistant Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and Chancellor along with United Front representatives and several faculty members began meeting on January 27th. After several days of consistent communication, the talks were postponed due to the arrest of several key BSU members on February 3rd, including James Johnson (Rashidi).

(FEb. 1969, El Gaucho)

Students held a rally in response to the BSU arrests, stating they were “…part of a large-scale police ‘conspiracy’ and based on ‘trumped-up charges’”.

(FEB. 1969, El Gaucho)

Following the arrests, the United Front released an undated document regarding the progress of discussion with the administration.

[Statement to the people and the chancellor, The United Front, Box 28]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records. UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

On February 17th, around 1,000 students held a 3-day demonstration in the UCen involving classroom sit-ins, rallies, and marches.

[February 17th Demonstration account, The United Front, Box 28]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records. UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

On the same day, the Chancellor responded in agreement to continuing discussions with students.

[Statement from ucsb chancellor vernon I cheadle, The United Front, Box 28]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Chancellor, Chancellor’s Records. UArch 17. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

On February 26th, the United Front released several statements regarding their transition to the New Free University and continued fighting for minority rights on campus.

[United front statement, The United Front, c. 1969-1974, Box 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations collection. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

On March 3rd, the United Front released a replication of their previous demands, writing “Why have these demands not been met?” across the top.

[“Why have these demands not been met”, The United Front, c. 1969-1974, Box 4]. University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations collection. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

The official Proposal for Black Studies at UCSB was submitted on April 1969, six months after the original demands posed by BSU in October 1969.


By: Frances Woo

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