In 1968, a coalition of minority students at San Francisco State University, known as the Third World Liberation Front, called a strike to protest the discrimination and misrepresentations of histories, cultures and knowledge of peoples of color within the university's curriculum and programs. Participating in this historic strike were Asian Pacific Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Latin Americans, American Indians, and other Americans-immigrant and native born, men and women, students, faculty, and staff, as well as religious, business, labor, and community leaders in the Bay area. Among those students was 20-year-old Juanita Tamayo, who within the year became a founder of the first Asian American Studies and the first (and only) College of Ethnic Studies in the United States. Later, she would merge her missions of respect and service to diverse American people with knowledge gained as a federal senior demographer.
In 2008, she retired from the federal statistical system, with extensive work for the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences. Her work was much more than numbers and included putting human faces on those numbers. In the late 1970s, as deputy director of the Women's Rights Program Unit, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, she conducted and supervised research and analysis on the intersection of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability discrimination.
Much of her work also influenced programs at the Smithsonian Institution for non-traditional audiences. Recent programs have evolved from census data, including programs chronicling the 60s and 70s civil rights movement, the 1976 Bicentennial "Peopling of the Americas," which affirms our rich, culturally diverse heritage, and the 1990s, "Seeds of Change," outlining bio- and social diversity. Even the 2010 Smithsonian's Folklife Festival is an outreach of statistical information about ethnic heritage. Yes, census data is about human capital and gives us a picture of our diverse nation.
Tamayo Lott has established the importance of the concept of "cohort" or people born of a certain generation and how that has defined moments in our lives. For instance, the Silent Generation are those born just prior to WWII and educated in high school and beyond during the 1950s. These include such people as Martin Luther King and their work led the way to remarkable change in the United States. Because of this, Tamayo Lott has remained active in mentoring younger generations in statistical and public service careers, including judging history and statistical contests from middle school to graduate school levels. "I have mentored children who are every color of the rainbow---A statistician without borders."
Tamayo Lott is author of "Filipinos in Washington, D.C." (with Rita Casas), "Asians Americans: From Racial Category to Multiple Identities," and "Spotlight on Heterogeneity: The Federal Standards for Racial and Ethnic Classification." In 2010, she co-authored Race, Ethnic and Gender Bias in Educational Statistics for the "International Encyclopedia of Education." In 2007, she co-founded the Filipino Studies Program at the University of Maryland College Park.
The Maryland Women's Heritage Center is proud to have Juanita Tamayo Lott serve on our Board of Directors. Her work as a demographer has given us much to analyze and has led to major changes. She truly knows the importance of filling out the 2010 census form!