Terry Collins was a major leader of the 1968-69 San Francisco State University Black student strike which created the world’s first Black Studies program and first College of Ethnic Studies. He died on July 8 at the age of 85.
A radio journalist, he was also KPOO-FM Radio co-founder and station board chair. He obtained the license for KPOO at a time when few African Americans were in possession of an FCC broadcast license.
Collins was a host and producer of several shows on KPOO and a mentor to hundreds of KPOO programmers, volunteers and interns who have become elected officials, college professors and award winning journalists.
Born in Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 29, 1936, he spent his early years in the small town of Connersville, Indiana. When he was 16, he moved to Los Angeles with his mother.
He graduated from Dorsey High School in 1952 and then attended Los Angeles Community College. Drafted in 1959, he was stationed in Germany for 19 months serving in the 13th and 35th Artillery. These were both all-Black divisions.
After he was discharged in 1961, he backpacked around Europe and North Africa.
During this early adult years he started thinking about Marxism and socialism.
He returned to Los Angeles in 1964 and became politically active. He had become an internationalist through his travels and his contacts with the African National Congress (ANC).
He moved to San Francisco in 1967 where he was a founder of the Black Draft Counseling Center and became a student at San Francisco State.
He joined the Black Student Union and the Black Panther Party. He made major contributions to the BSU by pushing for more structure and for strong alliances with other oppressed communities and Third World student organizations.
He was part of the leadership of the San Francisco State Strike, the longest and most successful student strike in U.S. history.
The strike established the first Black Studies Program and led to the teaching of ethnic studies across the country. Collins continued to be involved at San Francisco State throughout his life and was awarded the Exemplary Leadership Award in 2012 and 2019.
In 1973, he co-founded KPOO Radio Station 89.5 FM – The People’s Station. KPOO was a pioneering station which hosted shows by communities that were often ignored. In addition to serving as a board member and as president, he hosted the show, “Spirit of Joe Rudolph.”
Because of his amazing work on the station and at S.F. State on behalf of the Arab and Palestinian communities, a Palestine scholarship was established in his name and announced at his memorial service on July 24.
The service was attended by Danny Glover, who had once been Collins’ roommate; S.F. Mayor London Breed, Pastor and community leader Arnold Townsend, and several hundred of the people who loved Collins.
As the program for his memorial said, “He was a husband, father, ‘papa’ uncle, brother, son comrade, scholar, king, revolutionary and so much more. May he rest in power and peace.”
Collins is survived by family members including his wife Cecelia Johnson Collins; daughters Kiara Collins and Renia Collins; and others. He was related to Malcolm X by marriage
Terry Collins’ memorial service was broadcast live on KPOO 89.5 FM and kpoo.com at 2 p.m., Saturday July 24,2021. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to KPOO FM Radio https://kpoo.com/support