New Left Beginnings: The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964

Marty Ruhaak


Marty Ruhaak, a senior history major at Eastern Illinois University, wrote this essay for Dr. Edmund Wehrle’s Contemporary American History class in Fall 2002.  He was recently inducted into the Epsilon Mu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. 


The rise of the New Left in the early 1960s marked a significant, but turbulent turning point in American history.  Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was one of the initial and most successful student groups during the “New Left Movement.” The “Movement” can be characterized as a youth movement against the established political system, corporatism, and the Vietnam conflict.  The 1962 SDS “Port Huron Statement” encouraged students and other youth to become politically active and motivated many “New Left” members.  Beginning with the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (FSM), however, the New Left began to address pertinent campus and other student rights issues.  Leaders of the FSM, while radical, insisted that the movement maintain a rational focus to preserve their integrity and advance their cause.  The FSM, influenced by civil rights activists, used effective but non-violent civil disobedience tactics to gain support and achieve objectives.  Its leadership represented the early objectives of the New Left—best described as intellectual radicalism.  This study examines the chronology of events during the fall of 1964, a period during which the FSM achieved real success.  Through effective leadership, thoughtful protest tactics, and strong support from the faculty, the FSM accomplished its goals and inspired several years of campus protest. 

Events at Berkeley—Fall 1964

            The higher education environment across the country was changing during the early to mid-1960s.  Many of these changes and new developments helped create fertile ground for the radical student politics that led to the fall demonstrations at Berkeley.  During the Baby Boom era, thousands of new students entered universities.  Colleges across America faced massive enrollment increases, and many institutional administrators were ill prepared to handle the student invasion.  Berkeley was no exception.  From 1960-1964, the university experienced a 36 percent enrollment increase from 18,728 students to 25,454 students.[1]  The enrollment surge provided the FSM with a large student body that would prove easily mobilized when the demonstrations began.  Student radicals also benefited from the growing size of the graduate student population.  Graduate students accounted for only 15 percent of the campus in 1940, but by 1964, they represented more than 30 percent of the student body.[2]  The graduate students not only served as the vanguard “intellectual radicals” of the FSM, but also were key players during negotiations with the administration.  Many of the liberal graduate students educated themselves in radical politics and revolutionary action.  The graduate students involved in the FSM idolized third world revolutionaries like Mao Zedong and Che Guevara and were familiar with Marxism.

 Additionally, many of the graduate students were studying disciplines in the liberal arts and humanities.  Generally speaking, the courses and faculty involved in such disciplines were more politically oriented than their science and mathematics counterparts.  Undergraduates as well, generally shifted from studying science and mathematics and moved toward more liberal curriculum like history, philosophy, and sociology.[3]  Faculty in these programs promoted free thought and encouraged students to critically analyze world events.  Gradually, the mood at Berkeley grew more progressive, and by 1964 the university was considered one of the most liberal institutions in America.

            The extent of Berkeley activism became clear when the fall semester commenced in 1964.  Radicalism grew as students entered the semester educated about activist politics and civil rights.  Several hundred students spent the summer months before the fall semester participating in Freedom Summer.  Northern white students, including sixty from UC Berkeley, participated in civil rights projects in Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina.[4]  The students engaged in Freedom Summer worked with African-American student organizations like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), learning the basic methods of protest and civil disobedience.  When Berkeley students returned to campus in September, they created and joined new organizations that addressed civil rights students’ rights, and contemporary American politics.  The Berkeley chapter of SDS grew exponentially in size, while SNCC the established the first Berkeley chapter that fall.[5]  Furthermore, the national election was only two months away, so students were eager and the campus was alive with political campaigns and demonstrations.  Many, but not all of the demonstrations were leftist in nature, which disturbed conservative California politicians and Berkeley alumni.  Political literature denounced Barry Goldwater’s campaign for president.  Other pamphlets and campaigns advocated civil rights and the abolition of Jim Crow laws.

            In response to the growing student activism, Alex Sheriffs, the Berkeley vice-chancellor for student affairs, suggested that President Clark Kerr ban all campus political activity.[6]  Student political activity was already limited to a 26’x 90’ area on the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph, which was directly outside the main university entrance, known as Sather Gate.  Kerr, although a self-professed liberal, had a strict philosophy concerning on-campus political activity.[7]  At the University of California Charter Day in 1964, Kerr’s stated that philosophy.  “Just like the University should not invade students’ off-campus life…so also the students, individually or collectively, should not and cannot take the name of the University into…political or other non-University facilities,” opined the president.[8]  Kerr saw student activism as a distraction and in direct conflict with his grander idea of higher education and the university master plan.  When he became President in 1958,  Kerr’s master plan envisioned the university, in his master plan, as an institution above the typical political fray.  According to his agenda, the University of California system needed to modernize and become the leading multiversity in higher education.  Kerr expanded the size of each university branch and lobbied for increased funding, which exemplified his faith in old-school liberalism and the concept of economic growth.[9]  During his tenure, Kerr altered the academic mission of the university and changed the top priority from teaching students to research.  A true multiversity, Kerr suggested, would help increase national economic growth through vigorous research and development—military research included.  Essentially, the University of California became an industry whose product was knowledge.

            Kerr saw the student demonstrations in conflict with the new academic mission of the university.  On September 14 Kerr issued specific instructions to Katherine Towle, the Dean of Students.  Towle issued a letter to all student organizations banning all political activities, fund-raising, and informational tables from the Bancroft and Telegraph area.[10]  With activity outlawed at Bancroft and Telegraph, student political organizations had no on-campus location to distribute literature, organize, or assemble.

            The student response to Towle’s memo was immediate and assertive.  Fourteen different political organizations, including SDS, SNCC, and the College Republicans, banded together to form the United Front.[11]  Immediately, several graduate students rose to leadership positions.  Art Goldberg, Jack Weinberg, Jackie Goldberg, and Michael Rossman were graduate students who played instrumental roles throughout the conflict.  The most influential and vocal of the United Front and the FSM was Mario Savio, a charismatic New York native and liberal devoted to civil rights.[12]  Savio was a first-year philosophy graduate student in 1964.  He, like many other Berkeley students, spent the summer of ’64 in a Mississippi freedom school teaching African-Americans.  He was deeply affected by what he saw in Mississippi and came to Berkeley that fall with the intention of fighting the civil rights battle in the north.[13]  Savio’s passion, drive, and assertive rhetoric made him an easy choice as the United Front’s point man for decision-making and negotiations.

            Two days after they received Towle’s letter, Savio and other United Front leaders issued a petition to the Dean, urging that she rescind her decision.[14] In a meeting with the United Front, Towle agreed to allow tables at Bancroft and Telegraph, but only informational—not advocative political literature—could be distributed.[15] Savio and the other student leaders rejected the proposition.

            After the failed meting with Towle, Savio and the United Front decided that regular tactics of petitioning and negotiating would not work with the administration.  From September 21 until the first week in October, the United Front sponsored protests and vigils all over the campus.  The upper level of the Berkeley administration, indifferent during the initial days of the crisis, took serious notice after a week of student protests.  Chancellor Edward Strong issued a statement that allowed advocative literature to be distributed at the Bancroft and Telegraph entrance, but the ban on demonstrations and fund-raising continued.[16] Kerr supported Strong’s decision, but remained silent on the issue.  For the next two days, the United Front set up tables at the Bancroft and Telegraph entrance.  On September 29, the groups occupying the tables quickly broke the regulations made by Chancellor Strong the day before.  They recruited members, demonstrated, and collected donations for their political causes.  “We decided to set up the tables, express our right to collect money on the campus, because the campus—in our view—was public property…We wanted to establish the right to collect money on any piece of public property,” explained one United Front member.[17] Strong instructed university officials to take the names of any student organizations collecting funds or demonstrating in front of the Sather Gate entrance.[18]

            On September 30, the Berkeley chapters of SNCC and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) set up tables at Bancroft and Telegraph and continued to collect donations.  In a matter of minutes, representatives from the dean of student’s office took the names of five student organizers and asked them to appear in front of the dean.  The students complied, but were followed to the dean’s office by 500 other United Front members, led by Savio and Goldberg.  Strong ordered that the dean suspend the five student activists.[19] In turn, Savio and the 500 other students demanded that they too be suspended.  Savio coordinated a sit-in at Sproul Hall, which included the dean’s office, and threatened to stay until Strong and Towle lifted the five suspensions or suspended all United Front members.  It was at this protest that Savio truly illustrated his rhetoric and leadership proficiency.  In improvised orations Savio addressed the sit-in crowd.  He regarded the university as a privileged minority that “manipulates the university…to suppress the vast, virtually powerless majority.”[20] Savio argued that he no longer saw the crisis as a small campus issue, but as a broader question of students’ rights to freedom of speech and the First Amendment.  Thus, the United Front was renamed the Free Speech Movement.  Savio, Goldberg, and others urged the Berkeley student body to work tirelessly until the administration recognized their First Amendment rights.

            The groundbreaking events of the crisis occurred on October 1 and 2, the days following the first sit-in.  Student members of the FSM again set up tables at the Bancroft and Telegraph location and continued to solicit funds.  Representatives from the dean’s office, accompanied by the campus police, approached the student activists and asked them to cease and desist from any further action.  The small group of students refused.  One graduate student, Jack Weinberg, was arrested for trespassing and placed in a police car.[21] One female student described Weinberg’s arrest stating, “I thought the administration’s action was despicable.  This was a wrong which had to be righted immediately because it would set a precedent for denying more rights.”[22] Immediately, as if planned, hundreds of passing students sat around the police car and blocked all possible exit routes.  The crowd caused a great commotion and within a matter of minutes, several hundred more students placed themselves around the car.  Savio removed his shoes and climbed to the roof of the vehicle and began to call for Weinberg’s release.  Savio quickly turned the standoff into a forum for pressing the FSM agenda.  “We are being denied our rights by them.  We will stand around this police car until they negotiate with us.”[23] Savio spoke with so much passion that it was hard not to listen to him.  He demanded the complete attention of the students, faculty, and administration.  Savio’s strength was his uncanny ability to understand and articulate the thoughts and ideas of his peers.  According to W.J. Rorabaugh, “His [Savio’s] power came from his ability to articulate a tone that expressed the frustrations and anxieties of his generation.  While others were as angry as Savio, they found it impossible to articulate their anger.”[24] Despite his emotion and anger, Savio managed to keep the large and growing crowd under control.

            President Kerr, in San Francisco, was notified of the growing problems on the Berkeley campus.  Strong called Kerr and informed him of the situation, but greatly exaggerated the extent of the predicament.  He advised Kerr to request the assistance of California Gov. Pat  Brown and the National Guard.[25] Kerr pondered the request, but eventually decided against it.  Instead, he chose to meet with the FSM leadership, essentially calling an end to the police car protest/sit-in.  Savio, Jackie Goldberg, and other FSM representatives met with Kerr and Strong on October 2 and after several hours of discussion, came to a resolution.  The students agreed to end the illegal protest around the police car.  Kerr and the rest of the administration agreed to drop the charges against Weinberg, and decided to set up a meeting with the FSM to discuss on-campus political behavior.  The administration allowed the Academic Senate, composed of faculty, to review the five student suspensions from September 30.[26]

Temporarily satisfied, Savio climbed atop the police car once again and asked the students to go home.  At this point, the FSM was at the peak of its popularity.  In a survey conducted after October 2, over 50 percent of the student body approved the goals and tactics of the FSM leadership.[27] Resistance to the FSM mainly came from the Greek community and the student government—the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC).  The Greeks were inherently against the liberal nature of the protests and vehemently denounced non-conformists.  The leaders of the ASUC were essentially puppets of the administration and looked to Kerr for approval on any topics that came before them.  Kerr instructed the ASUC to denounce the Berkeley demonstrations.[28]

Despite the FSM-Kerr agreement, neither side trusted the other.  Savio continued to coordinate protests and rallies on campus to maintain student and faculty support.[29] Kerr in turn, lobbied for faculty support.  He granted the faculty a large role by charging them with authority in determining the fate of the suspended students.  Most of the faculty, however, distrusted and disliked Kerr’s handling of the situation.  Many faculty members were proponents of the civil rights movement and saw Kerr’s actions as a limitation of on-campus civil rights.[30] Moreover, the faculty resented Kerr’s attempt to link the FSM with communist and socialist organizations.  Even though small numbers of socialists participated in the FSM rallies, they seemed no more influential than the Goldwaterites or the campus Republicans.  “Only 4.5 percent of the students arrested in the December 2-3 sit-in in Sproul Hall belonged to “radical” groups…Furthermore, 57 percent of the students belonged to no political organizations at all.”[31] The faculty and student’s distrust of Kerr increased in November when Kerr replaced an Academic Senate subcommittee with pro-administration faculty who voted in favor of suspending the five student activists.  Outraged leaders of the FSM held massive protests and sit-ins at Sproul Plaza until Kerr agreed to reorganize the Academic Senate and allow student representatives help rule on the case.  On November 9, the FSM issued a statement explaining their resentment.

“It [the Administration] demands the privilege to usurp the prerogatives of the courts, to pre-judge whether an act of advocacy is illegal…It demands this privilege as a tool to repress student social and political activity when outside pressures become great enough.  At present it seems most responsive to pressures asking that it crush the Civil Rights movement.”[32]


Eventually Kerr agreed, but added administrators to the committee.  Nevertheless, the new committee lifted the suspensions.[33]

            Upset by the decision of the Academic Senate subcommittee, Kerr and the Regents took matters into their own hands.  Savio and three other FSM leaders were put on probation for their roles in the October 1 and 2 protests and later reviewed for suspension.[34] The FSM planned a major on-campus demonstration to respond to Kerr and his new directives.  Savio and Art Goldberg planned a well-advertised sit-in at Sproul Plaza scheduled for December 2.  The FSM spread the word quickly; they hoped that the administration would take action against the sit-in.  The FSM leadership created new objectives, looking not only to gain free speech on campus, but also seeking to embarrass Kerr and the administration.  At a pre sit-in rally on December 2, Savio articulated the importance of the movement.  He said:

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop.  And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machines will be prevented from working at all.”[35]


            Shortly after the rally, more than 1,000 Berkeley students entered all four levels of Sproul Hall and sat down.  Students who did not participate in the sit-down, picketed outside or went on strike.  Some estimates suggest that 3,500 students picketed, while 1,900 went on strike.[36] For hours, students sat in Sproul Hall singing songs, reciting civil rights chants, and making plans for further action.  Police guarded the Sproul Hall entrances and exits, but there was no violence or damage inside the building.  A student participant described the atmosphere as “congenial, relaxed, and partylike.”[37] At 3:45 a.m., the party stopped and Chancellor Strong ordered all students to leave the building or be arrested for trespassing.  No one acceded to his demand, and several hundred police officers dragged 773 student protestors out of the building.[38] As police officers entered the building, students used tactics taken from the civil rights movement like going “limp” when being taken by police.[39] Some accounts reported that officers, frustrated by the disobedience, used heavy force in removing students.[40]

            While police might have broken the demonstration, the sit-in at Sproul Hall could be counted as a success.  The next day, the Academic Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging the university administration to lift disciplinary actions against those arrested before December 2.  Most significantly, the Senate resolution demanded that students be allowed to engage in on-campus political activity.[41] The resolution was wildly popular with the FSM.  Faculty leaders scheduled a campus-wide meeting in which students, faculty, and administrators could review the Senate’s proposal and come to a final resolution.  The meeting occurred at the campus Greek Theatre.  Thousands of students were in attendance to watch President Kerr accept the terms of the Senate resolution.  As Kerr was leaving the stage, Savio approached the podium, several police officers intercepted him.[42] The crowd broke into frenzy as Savio struggled with the officers.  Even though Kerr finally let him address the crowd, the peace that seemed to be in place minutes earlier disappeared.

            A week later, the Regents held an emergency meeting at Berkeley to address the events of the past semester.  Of course, several hundred FSM members met the Regents with pickets and protests calling for freedom of speech.  In their ruling, the Regents overturned the Academic Senate resolution and attested that all arrests or disciplinary measures taken against students since October 2 were final.[43] The Regents reasserted their authority as the primary source of law for the University of California system.  Kerr made little comment on the Regents’ decision, but did recognize their authority in the matter.  For his mismanagement of the crisis, the Regents chastised Strong.  The decision itself did not please the FSM, but it was clear that with the support of the faculty, victory was theirs.  The Regents’ rules technically never went into effect.  Chancellor Strong resigned his position a week later, and the interim Chancellor Martin Meyerson issued a letter on January 3, stating the new rules for political activity.[44] Meyerson allowed the steps of Sproul Hall to be an open forum for political discussion.  Tables could be placed at a number of on-campus locations, and political speakers were allowed in Sproul Plaza.[45]

Analyzing Berkeley

            The central question in analyzing the events at Berkeley in the fall of 1964 is:  Why was the FSM successful?  No single explanation can alone explain the level of success the student protestors achieved.  One of the most important of these factors was certainly the quality of leadership and the tactics used by the FSM.  Led by Savio, Goldberg, and Weinberg, the movement had experienced protestors, well versed in the ways of civil disobedience and new liberalism.  Both Savio and Goldberg had participated in Freedom Summer.  They taught at freedom schools, marched, demonstrated, and performed at sit-ins.  Here, it seems that the FSM leadership learned the importance of non-violence and moderate protest tactics.  When performing sit-ins or protests, the FSM leadership instructed other members on how to go “limp” and remain non-violent when attacked by officers.  This proved extremely useful at the Sproul Hall sit-in while officers were using force to drag the non-violent students from the building.  Through video footage, it is clear that the non-violent tactics were almost always used and garnered support from onlookers, especially faculty.[46] On October 1 and 2, during the police car sit-in, Savio instructed all those who were on top of the car to remove their shoes so not to scuff the roof.  When the sit-in ended, the protestors donated $455.01 to pay for any damage done to the car.[47] The leaders, most notably Savio, knew how to control combustible situations, through non-violence.  This tactic gave the FSM an image of peaceful demonstrators virtuously seeking civil rights on campus.[48]

            Savio and the other FSM leaders also had a unique ability to mobilize, motivate, and organize an extremely large student body.  Through intense imagery and creative rhetoric, the FSM recruited members for their fight.  Radical leaders presented the FSM as a fight to preserve the United States Constitution.  They consistently read excerpts from the Constitution concerning the First Amendment and free speech.  At most rallies the American flag was present.  Even though most of the leadership was radical or even “red-diaper babies” (the progeny of American socialists and communists) they did not polarize themselves through extreme socialist or communist speech, as other activists would later do.  They were not calling for a revolution, but for reform.  They effectively articulated the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of their generation, but did so with moderation.  Most students saw Berkeley as a multiversity that was using them to produce research and knowledge.  At one of the initial rallies, Weinberg addressed the idea of a multiversity.

I want to tell you about this—uh—knowledge factory that we’re all sitting here now.  It seems certain…of the products are not coming out to standard specification …Occasionally, a few students get together and decide that they are human beings.  Some students get together and decide that they are not…willing to be products.”[49]


Students identified with the FSM's anger and feelings of isolation.  At times, however, the anger and emotion of the FSM leadership interrupted negotiations and perhaps prolonged the crisis.  At several points, Savio was forced to leave meetings with Kerr and Strong because he could not control his temper.  Students, however, were attracted to this rage and followed Savio's lead.  The number of people who participated in at least one FSM event is well into the thousands.  Without the manpower and support, the FSM could not have won. 

                        The FSM also appeared much better prepared to engage in a battle than the administration.  The leadership of the FSM came to campus that fall looking for someone to challenge.  Many of them, inspired by their civil rights work, wanted to make a change at Berkeley in some capacity.  Once again, many students were experienced in protest, non-violence, and civil disobedience.  The FSM leadership effectively tied their cause to the civil rights movement, and therefore, gained the sympathy of many liberals.  Savio especially had a talent for paralleling the FSM with the SCLC and Martin Luther King.

In his work, An End to History, Savio makes repeated references to the movement.

“Last summer I went to Mississippi to join the struggle there for civil rights.  This fall I am engaged in another phase of the same struggle, this time in Berkeley.  The same rights are at stake in both places—the right to participate as citizens in democratic society and the right to due process of law.  In Mississippi an autocratic and powerful minority rules…to suppress the vast virtually powerless majority.  In California, the privileged minority manipulates the university bureaucracy to suppress the students’ political expression.”[50]


            The administration, on the other hand, was arrogant and aloof.  Chancellor Strong was not concerned with students, but government funding research, and the production of knowledge.  Students, it seems, were a means to his end.  He proved his ineptitude in handling students and campus problems throughout the fall.  Kerr, though more thoughtful, was detached from the situation for most of the semester.  His main office was in close proximity in San Francisco, but his trips to Berkeley were not frequent.  When he did address the students, he proved as inept as String.  Forcefully removing 700 students from Sproul Hall in December destroyed any student of faculty support that he had.  By not letting Savio address the crowd at the Greek Theatre a week later, Kerr ruined any chance that he had of making peace with the FSM.  Even though the FSM was by no means faultless they were better prepared.  The activists,

“were better prepared for war than Kerr.  First, they knew what they wanted.  Although their specific demands changed over time, they demanded an end to the regulation of political activity on campus.  This was called free speech.  Kerr…could only wave a sheaf of ever changing regulations…which appeared to be shifting responses to pressure.”[51]


            The final, and possibly most significant factor in determining the success of the FSM, was the support from the faculty.  When the uprisings began in September, there was no structure in place for the students to create policy or make recommendations to the administration and Regents.  Automatically, they were fighting a dispute they had nearly no chance of winning.  Originally, however, the faculty served mostly as mediators between the students and administration.  It was not until after the Sproul Hall debacle in December, when the faculty showed full public support for the students.  As the protestors pressed ahead, more faculty sympathized and supported the objectives of the FSM.  Furthermore, many Berkeley faculty members were liberals by 1964.  They had witnessed the civil rights movement in the South and sympathized with its goals.  Some faculty saw the FSM as a microcosm of the civil rights movement, except it was a northern, white, student version.  Faculty viewed the suppression of the FSM by the administration as a repression of civil rights.  During the December 8 Academic Senate meeting, the liberal faculty voiced their concerns and showed support for student activism.  Professors of liberal disciplines spoke in defense of the FSM.  Sociology professor Philip Selznik stated:  “We are not in the business here of regulating speech…I sincerely hope we shall conclude here, a movement toward a policy that protects the content of speech and that assumes the risks of that protection.”[52] History professor Kenneth Stamp defended the students’ rights in his comments.  “ I don’t think the Board of Regents can delegate any rights to our students.  These rights they have under the Constitution of the United States…The Regents neither delegate these rights nor are empowered, I think, to take them away.”[53]

            President Kerr also managed to alienate the faculty.  He consistently put the ideas and requests of politicians and the Regents before those of the faculty.  Kerr and Strong both regarded the faculty as components of the multiversity and knowledge factory.[54] Most faculty, however, believed in the democracy of the university system, but felt that students and faculty were wrongly excluded from participation.  In some ways, it seemed the faculty saw itself as victims of the “machine” as much as students.  When the Academic Senate passed the resolutions supporting student political activity, they essentially abandoned the administration.  Without the majority of faculty support, the Regents and Kerr were outnumbered and any laws they passed against the students would have been rejected.  Even with the impressive leadership, non-violent tactics, and disengaged administration, the FSM may not have won if it were not for the faculty support.

            The Berkeley Free Speech Movement heavily influenced the evolution of the New Left.  The FSM was a major factor that established the initial ideologies, philosophies, and tactics of the early New Left.  The FSM was the first time that the New Left movement waged a major protest on a college campus.  Students also proved, unlike the early SDS, that they could organize and operate on their own without the assistance of big business or organized labor.  Throughout the fall semester, the FSM showed a propensity for restraint and moderation that attracted the support of many liberals.  The effective student leadership and impressive protest tactics used at Berkeley inspired college students across the nation.  What ensued was a flood of student protests and New Left movements for students’ rights and later, an end to the Vietnam War.  The FSM was not a perfect movement, nor was it devoid of any blame for the events that took place.  Furthermore, it cannot fully be free of blame for the future tragedies of the movement.  The FSM set up the blueprint for student activism in the 1960s.  Through non-violent tactics, effective leadership, and strong coalitions with third parties, student activists engaged in several years of protest.  By 1968, however, the call for reform changed to a call for revolution. The moderation present in the FSM was gone, and the student movement spiraled out of control and splintered.  The golden promise so evident at Berkeley in 1964 was later consumed by violence and chaos.




[1] W.J. Rorabaugh, Berkeley at War:  The 1960s (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1989), 12.

[2] Max Heirich, The Beginning:  Berkeley, 1964 (New York:  Columbia University Press, 1970), 9.

[3] The Berkeley Free Speech Controversy:  Preliminary Report, December 13, 1964. [].  According to the preliminary report, 90 percent of all students majoring in liberal curriculum in the social sciences or humanities participated in the October student strike.

[4] Rorabaugh, 19.

[5] Willis Rudy, The Campus and a Nation in Crisis (Cranbury, New Jersey:  Associated University Press, 1996), 151.

[6] Rorabaugh, 15. 

[7] Ibid, 14-15.  In 1964, most political activity was already banned on campus.  Former University President Robert Sproul initiated policies throughout the 1930s that prohibited any political activity/politicians on campus.  In 1963, Kerr and the Board of Regents relaxed the rules and allowed politicians to speak on campus, but students needed to present both sides of the political debate.  Moreover, Kerr mandated that speakers must be approved by the administration.  Student demonstrations and on-campus activism was still barred, except at Bancroft and Telegraph.

[8] Heirich, 52.

[9] Ibid, 46.  Kerr encouraged the government to sponsor research at Berkeley.  The Armed services took advantage of the invasion and conducted military research in various academic departments.  Small protests did occur at Berkeley over the issue of military research before 1964.  The most important happened in 1962 when SLATE held a protest against University atomic research.

[10] Gilbert Rosenbrier, “An Historical Analysis of Student Unrest” (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1971), 105.

[11] Originally, the opposition to the administration included political groups from the right and the left.  Conservatives, as well as liberals, demanded the right to organize and meet on-campus.  Eventually, however, the United Front and the FSM were taken over by leftists and radicals, who silenced the conservative viewpoint.

[12] Rorabaugh, 21.

[13] Ibid, 22-23.

[14] Rosenbrier, 107-108.

[15] Ibid, 108.

[16] Ibid, 109.  Strong’s statement did allow advocative political literature, but only permitted students to advocate a “yes” or “no” vote on a particular issue.  Any other language promoting an issue or candidate was still prohibited.

[17] Heirich, 78.

[18] Rosenbrier, 110.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Gladys Ritchie, “The Rhetoric of American Studies in Protest During the 1960s:  A Study in Ends and Means” (Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 1973), 102.  

[21] Kenneth Heineman, Put Your Bodies Upon the Wheels (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001), 107.  Weinberg was closely associated with Savio and the FSM.  Certain evidence suggests that the FSM desired his arrest so that the organization could gain more student support and publicity.

[22] Heirich, 112.

[23] Ritchie, 106.

[24] Rorabaugh, 22.

[25] Verne Stadtman, The University of California, 1868-1968 (New York:  McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1970), 450.  Governor Brown and Kerr decided that calling in the National Guard would make the situation look too much like a Southern civil rights battle.  Both Brown and Kerr did not want to draw that much attention to the Berkeley campus.

[26] Ibid, 451-452.

[27] Heirich, 169.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Rorabaugh, 27.

[30] Ibid, 27-28.

[31] Preliminary Report. []

[32] Free Speech Movement On-Line Archives “Why We Have Decided to Begin to Exercise Rights Again” []

[33] Berkeley in the Sixties, prod. and dir. Mark Kitchell, 117 min., California Newsreel, 1990, videocassette.

[34] Rorabaugh, 30.

[35] Ibid, 31.

[36] Heirich, 184.

[37] Ibid, 32.

[38] Rudy, 153.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Stadtman, 459.  In reality, no police beatings were documented, but many eyewitnesses recall officers using force.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid, 462.

[43] Rosenbrier, 130.

[44] Heirich, 249-250.  Strong did resign on December 31.  He claimed that he had a severe medical problem that prohibited him from performing as chancellor.  Some evidence suggests that Strong, after his reprimand from the Regents, was forced to leave.

[45] Rosenbrier, 132.

[46] Berkeley in the Sixties, prod. And dir. Mark Kitchell, 117 min., California Newsreel, 1990, videocassette.

[47] Rorabaugh, 21.

[48] Ellinor Langer, “Notes for the Next Time:  A Memoir of the 1960s,” Toward a History of the New Left, ed. David Myers (New York:  Carlson Publishing, 1989), 83.  The FSM was not that innocent.  They did have a hidden agenda to humiliate Kerr and Strong, but were opportunistic enough to show their teeth, so to speak.  When the media was present they knew to act as peaceful demonstrators.

[49] Heirich, 103.

[50] An End to History. []

[51] Rorabaugh, 20.

[52] Academic Senate Debate and Resolution. []

[53] Ibid.

[54] Rorabaugh, 28.