Friday, September 26, 2014

Who Really Won the Battle of UC Berkeley?

CC Liu, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; Barbara Garson, Common Dreams, 9-24-14)
Why we protest: Mario Savio on the Operation of the Machine, UCB, Dec. 2, 1964. See Min. 3:20
Barbara Garson, then a student at Berkeley, speaking to a crowd of students in the fall of 1964 (Tom Kuykendal/FSM Archives/All rights reserved).
Fifty Years Later: Who Really Won the Battle of Berkeley?
As student activists return to campus to celebrate the 1964 Free Speech movement that galvanized for social justice, big questions remain about the direction of higher education since those radical days of upheaval and hope.
I’m going back to the Berkeley campus this week for the 50th reunion of the Free Speech Movement. You may have heard in some history class about Mario Savio and the first student sit-in of the 1960s. That was us, FSMers [Free Speech Movementers] at Berkeley.
UC Berkeley, clock tower, center of campus with view of Bay Bridge and San Francisco
Cal Berkeley (, Aug 19, 2014)
It will feel a bit surreal. The university that had 801 of us arrested is welcoming us back by hanging Free Speech banners on the building we occupied. Home like a victorious football team! But it’s not a real victory because the people that tried to shut us up in the 1960s have a more chilling control over U.S. college students today than they ever had over us. Today it’s not police control, its economic control.
But The Free Speech Movement was half a century ago, so here’s a quick “teach-in” on the issues.
In the fall of 1964 students returned to campus -- some from a Freedom Summer in Mississippi or a stint with Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Organizing Committee -- to learn that we were no longer allowed to leaflet at the university entrance.
The reason they gave us was trash -- too much litter. But like our leaflets, that flimsy excuse was quickly dropped. When all the religious, political, and social clubs who used the space joined to complain, we were soon assured that the ban would apply only to leaflets that "advocated off-campus actions." The cat was out of the bag. More

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