Roberto Hernández, 1999 twLF Student Striker

Roberto Hernandez, 1999 twLF Student Striker

“Part of what makes Ethnic Studies what it is is that we insist on community, that we insist on the value of this work, that it’s not just about knowledge for knowledge sake, but the knowledge to transform our communities.”


Roberto D. Hernández is a Xicano from San Ysidro, a district in San Diego along the U.S-Mexico border with Tijuana. Hernández came to Berkeley in 1997 with the last class of affirmative action before Proposition 209 took effect and took an active role as a student striker in the third world Liberation Front strike (twLF) of 1999. Leading up to the strike, Hernández was part of the Students of Color Solidarity Council (SCSC), which helped coordinate the Third World College, where they held a series of teach-ins, events, and film-screenings during a week-long takeover of Sproul Plaza. As the SCSC was organizing for the 30th anniversary of the TWLF, people began to have conversations and create strategies to push for a larger Third World College. This was the precursor to the 1999 strike. 

Students launched an eight-day strike under the banner twLF, which included a mass occupation of the Sproul Hall steps, a hunger strike, and a ten-hour-long occupation of the Social Science Building (then known as Barrows Hall). During the protest, Hernández and other organizers held teach-ins to voice their opposition to budget cuts to the Department of Ethnic Studies. Hernández referred to himself as a miluso (‘a thousand uses’) in the movement, indicating that he would help out wherever he was needed. As an active student striker, Hernández was asked to be on the negotiating team that interfaced with the university. Hernández refused, requesting that younger, first-year students be on the negotiating team instead of him. The 1999 twLF strike ended on May 7, 1999, when organizers reached a five-point agreement with the administration in support of the Department of Ethnic Studies. After the strike, Hernández continued organizing to ensure that the agreement was fully implemented. After graduating in 2002, he went on to pursue his Master's and Doctorate degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley to continue holding the University accountable to the terms of the agreement.

He is now an Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University and continues to be an actively engaged community-based researcher, writer, translator, and teacher. He served as a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Social Change and a Researcher at the Center for Latino Policy Research, and a board member of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS). Dr. Hernández co-edited the anthology Decolonizing the Westernized University: Interventions in Philosophy of Education from Within and Without(Lexington, 2016) and is the author of Coloniality of the U-S///Mexico Border: Power, Violence, and the Decolonial Imperative(Univ. of AZ Press, 2018)

Please visit the San Diego State University website to learn more about Dr. Hernández.