Free Speech Movement

Talk of the Town

You might not expect the mayor of Berkeley to show up for a meeting in dad jeans and running shoes. Or to be just 33 years old and living in a rented apartment with two roommates. Or to engage a reporter in a freewheeling discussion on some of the most controversial topics of the day without an aide or PR flack in attendance. But then again, Berkeley wasn’t expecting Jesse Arreguín ’07, who swept into office in 2016 in an upset victory over Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who had been endorsed by former Mayor Tom Bates.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Houses in the Hills: Berkeley’s Early Bohemian Architecture

Whatever you may have heard, countercultural Berkeley did not materialize, Brigadoon-like, out of the marijuana haze of a Vietnam War protest. Long before there was a Berkeley Barb or a How Berkeley Can You Be? parade, there were Berkeley bohemians. And Charles Augustus Keeler, by the standards of proto-hippiedom, was Sgt. Pepper.

From the Summer 2018 Our Town issue of California.

Pot of Gold: A Former Silicon Valley Executive Turns to Weed Farming

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cultivating some dynamite weed, that is. In 2015, UC Berkeley grad, former Daily Cal photographer, and superstar digital engineer Mike Lovas purchased a 70-acre farm near Brandon, Oregon, with his wife, Donna, and his stepson, Nick. Their goal: sustainable and, they hoped, profitable agriculture. The first part was relatively easy, they say.

Is Free Speech Smart?

There appears to be a consensus among UC Berkeley law professors that despite his offensive views, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulous had a legal right to speak on campus last September.

Maker’s Mark: The KALX Origin Story

The radio station we now call KALX began life as an oddity in the basement of Ehrman Hall, a dormitory on Dwight Way. It had at its disposal a collection of records, mostly classical, a couple mics, a cheap recorder, and a Corina cigar box containing the most basic of mixing boards. The year was 1962.

This was not a sanctioned operation. It was not a political statement. It was barely even art. Radio KAL was, in fact, the work of geeks; driven, visionary, persistent, highly resourceful geeks.

Roots Music: The Beginnings of Rolling Stone

The 50th anniversary of iconic rock magazine Rolling Stone arrived in November, and the party was long and loud. Origin stories have festooned the magazine and its website; a coffee table book appeared in May; Joe Hagan’s biography of cofounder Jann Wenner, Sticky Fingers, was published in October; and an HBO documentary is scheduled for November. To keep things interesting, Wenner announced that he plans to sell his company’s stake in the magazine, prompting a round of retrospective articles in The New York Times and elsewhere.

From the Winter 2017 Power issue of California.

Dan Siegel on Free Speech and People’s Park 48 Years Later

Five questions for Dan Siegel, famous as an articulate firebrand on the UC Berkeley campus during the heady 1960s. He is now 71 and is a civil rights attorney in Oakland. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The People’s Museum: Evelyn Orantes Connects Oaklanders with the OMCA

When Evelyn Orantes studied history at UC Berkeley, she lived just a few blocks from the Oakland Museum. To her and her roommates the museum seemed as inaccessible as a castle, complete with moat. The Class of ’99 had gotten involved with Chicano politics while at Berkeley, so when she finally went to the museum for its Day of the Dead celebration, it wasn’t to enjoy but to see how OMCA was co-opting the Mexican holiday.

Can’t We All Get Along? Case Studies of Racial Tensions In and Around Progressive Berkeley

Science tells us that race is in our heads, not in our genes; it’s all a social construct.

It’s an observation that seems to illuminate everything and nothing at once. It makes it sound so arbitrary and trivial—a trick of the mind. And yet history tells us that race has mattered enormously. And the news emphasizes how much it still matters today in terms of what researchers call “life outcomes”: Your chances of securing a loan, for example; or of getting a good education; or of being shot by the police.

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Singing It Right Out Loud: How Protest Songs Have Propelled Progressive Politics

Name a progressive cause from the 20th century, and odds are it reverberated to the soundtrack of protest music.

Singing together “helps unify people and bring people together with a common message,” says Terry Garthwaite, who sang at protests on the UC Berkeley campus during the Free Speech Movement and went on to found the pioneering Berkeley rock band Joy of Cooking in 1967. “I think the Free Speech Movement benefited greatly from the musical legacy of the civil rights movement, which of course was still going strong.”

The FSM at 50: Old Activists Never Say Die

October 1 marked the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Free Speech Movement in 1964. Following Jack Weinberg’s arrest for political and free speech tabling on campus–Jack’s the famous Guy in the Police Car–some 3,000 students surrounded the police car that had driven onto Sproul Plaza. Mario Savio and other student activists mounted and spoke to the crowd from the car’s roof. They stayed for 32 hours.

Free Speech Rhetoric and Reality: Why Savio, Kerr and Reagan Were All “Radicals”

Fifty years ago this October 1, thousands of UC Berkeley students spontaneously sat down around a police car on Sproul Plaza and held it captive for 33 hours in protest of a University rule against political activity on campus. Over the next three months, the Free Speech Movement, as it became known, led a series of demonstrations that convulsed the campus and defeated the ban.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Radicals Revisited: Eyewitnesses to Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement Mark 50th Anniversary

How time flies! This fall will be the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, and FSM veterans will return to campus for a reunion that will feature the usual events, plus some others you might not have anticipated.

For instance, are you ready for FSM: The Musical? Produced by Stagebridge in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the full-length musical production will have its first performance September 27 on Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, with two additional performances the following day.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.
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