Talk:Free Speech Movement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

<< regulations prohibiting advocacy of political causes or candidates, signing of members, and collection of funds by student organizations at the intersection of Bancroft and Telegraph Avenues would be "strictly enforced." >>

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 11 March 2019 and 12 June 2019. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Artmin405.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 21:28, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Peer reviewers: Calstudent123.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 21:49, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This was prompted by the advocacy of what political causes and candidates? The signing of members and collection of funds by what student organizations? What was this really about?

What's described here sounds rather insignificant to have garnered the booming title "The Free Speech Movement". Did the outcome affect only the Berkeley campus, or did these events inspire anything larger?-PhD. Joe Shabadabado Jr. -- Beland 07:08, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The outcome was felt nationally, even perhaps globally. It was the first moment in modern U.S. history in which the authority of a campus administration was successfully challenged by students. This led other students on other campuses, and people outside of the university world as well, to believe that it was possible to expand political space and create social and political change from below. I wish there was some explanation in this entry of why the administration, at a time when it knew the civil rights revolution was spreading throughout the country and engaging students everywhere, thought it made any kind of sense to attempt to make the Berkeley campus, a campus which had been a center for political activism throughout the university's history, into a "politics-free zone". Did they really believe they could force the student body to totally disengage from political reality throughout their undergraduate careers?-- Ken Burch 14:05, 25 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article deserves much expansion. The FSM was a pivitol moment in The Sixties that epitomized the rift between administrators expecting docile students and students caught in the social and political fervor of the civil rights movement. It did inspire student uprisings elsewhere, but is remebered as an important event of the decade. --Jiang 08:55, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The backstory needs improvement.[edit]

The backstory needs improvement. Sproul Plaza, Sproul Hall, and the steps leading up to Sproul Hall, were the central point in the FSM, the stage, if you will.  Campus groups of all types had always been allowed to set up informational tables near and around the fountain in Sproul Plaza, as well as the sidewalk area at and adjacent to the main entrance to the university.  It was commonplace, accepted, and tolerated by the administration.  By tacit agreement of students and the administration, the area near the bottom of the steps going up to Sproul Hall were kept clear of tables.

Sproul Plaza was centrally located at the university's wide main gate (easily wide enough for a campus or City of Berkeley police car to drive through).  Adjacent to the plaza and the plaza's fountain were the University Bookstore, Student Union, and the university's administrative offices. Classrooms/labs/and the library were close by. Sproul Plaza was a hub and the natural meeting place for graduate and undergraduate students alike, whether coming onto and leaving the campus, going to the bookstore or student union, or simply sitting around by the fountain reading, thinking, talking with a friend or friends, or simply being idle and enjoying the California sunshine, whatever.

The turning point came when a few groups began handing out disturbing information about U.S. intervention and involvement in what the groups considered to be a nationalist movement, a civil war. Remember, then-U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower had reneged on the U.S. agreement to hold elections in Vietnam, cancelling them because as he and John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State said "... the Communists would certainly win."  Dulles was, of course, the father of the Domino Theory of political collapse and slavery under Communism in all of Southeast Asia.  And of course, the arch-regressive Republican politician Barry Goldwater was banging his nationalist, patriotic drum to become president of the United States.

Pro-communist students like Bettina Aptheker (whose father was, if I'm not mistaken, a leader in the U.S. Communist party) set up tables to dispute the government's claims, and to call for free elections in Vietnam as required by the agreements signed by France, the United States on the partition of Vietnam following the defeat of French forces (the French Foreign Legion) at Dien Bien Phu. As I recall, there were at least two tables set up between the fountain and Sproul steps peacefully handing out literature about U.S. intervention in VietNam, some of them signing up students to protest that intervention.  Those students, in the main, saw the United States intervening in what was clearly a continuation of the Vietnamese nationalist movement, a movement thwarted by the U.S. refusal to allow free elections to be held in partioned Vietnam regarding the future of their country, and that the U.S. was engaging in what was essentially a civil war, one forced upon the Vietnamese people by the foreign countries that partioned their country after they had legitimately defeated French colonialism in their country.  The students attempted to inform other students about how U.S. corporate economic interests (e.g., rubber production necessary for makers of tires for U.S. cars and trucks)was strongly influencing U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, and about the widespread corruption of large landowners and political/military leaders in South Vietnam.

The critical point came when, under pressure from politicized members of the university's Board of Regents who perhaps labored under the old and increasingly discredited philosophy of "... my country, right or wrong, but my country!", the university's administration (i.e., university president Clark Kerr) announced that student activist and informational tables would no longer be allowed to be set up in Sproul Plaza.  Groups complying with the university's announcement set up their tables on the broad sidewalk on the Berkeley side of the main gate, but other groups refused to do so.  The university's campus police regularly went to Sproul Plaza to have non-complying students remove their tables, with the threat of university sanctions imposed against them if they didn't.  Most complied, but again, one or two didn't, citing their First Amendment right to free speech, especially when on the grounds of an institution of higher learning.

Student support at Berkeley for the FSM was mixed.  Student support for the university's ban came not only from students opposed to the pro-Communist, anti-war pamphleteers, but also from students who disliked being forced to run the plethora, the gauntlet if you will, of pro-war/anti-war/social activist tables as they entered or left the campus, or went to the bookstore, student union, or to the university's administrative offices in Sproul Hall.  But I think it would be safe to say that most students believed in the basic philosophy of the FSM, but not all were in agreement on the way the FSM leaders were going about it, ie., objecting to authority was okay, but outright defiance wasn't.  Certainly the student newspaper (the "Daily Cal") printed editorials and letters for and against the activities of the FSM leaders.  But for many undecided, unsure others, it was an awakening, and ephiphany of sorts, as to what young adults could do in the face of intransigent (and powerful) older, established adults.

The U.C. Berkeley Free Speech Movement clearly was a pivotal moment in U.S. political history.  The movement was emulated on many college/university campuses across the country, and it led directly to the anti-war movement and its marches that in time led to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam.  This article is good, but I think in its brevity it fails to do justice to the Movement and its social impact.

It's sad to remember the anger, the balls, and the determination that those young students of the early '60's had in advancing the rights of students in the Free Speech Movement, and in being the advance guard of a nationwide movement that not only finally put an end to the war in Southeast Asia, but advanced the cause of Human Rights in the U.S. as well ... and then thinking of how so very, very much we need those types of students to come forth to lead us now.

K. Kellogg-Smith 16:57, 28 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Inspiration for the Free Speech Movement[edit]

Quick response to comment above inquiring about the significance — high school students across the country in the 'sixties heard about the FSM in Berkeley, and chose to go there because of its path-breaking collective spirit. That's one of the reasons, i would argue, that Berkeley developed a reputation for being radical. Recommended documentary video: Berkeley in the 'Sixties.

But i write here for a different reason — in the book by Fred W. Thompson and Patrick Murfin, The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years, 1905-1975, 1976, page 204-205, it says:

When the Berkeley Free Speech Fight erupted in September of 1964, it was heavily influenced by the example of the IWW free speech fights of the 1910s and 1920s. IWW members were actively involved in the fight.

This is an IWW source, and i'm wondering if anyone can confirm this information from another source?

Info about the IWW's free speech fights here: Free speech fights

thanks, Richard Myers 05:40, 15 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article is about free speech, not racism[edit]

I have removed this paragraph:

Reaction to the FSM, especially the Civil Rights/Minority causes, drew attention to a phenomenon that became known as "reverse racism". The reaction peaked locally with the Regents of The University of California v. Bakke judgement in favor of Alan Bakke in 1978. Bakke, a white applicant to the University of California-Davis Medical School, successfully challenged the University quota system set up to advance minorities which, advertently or inadventently, hobbled whites.

In my view, this recent contribution is off topic, and inappropriate for an article about the Free Speech Movement. Richard Myers 02:01, 3 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1961 Speaker Ban Stike at Queens College/CUNY in NYC[edit]

<<unpredented in their scope>> should be the way this first paragraph phrase is stated. In November 1961, there was a student strike at Queens College/CUNY in New York (source Queens College Phoenix -- the official student newspaper)against the banning of student-invited speakers including Malcolm X and Benjamin Davis who were deemed controversial by the college's administration . A little know fact was that Mario Savio was a student at Queens College/CUNY in 1961 and a participant (picket captain) in that NYC campus student strike. He later transferred to UC/B and was a SNCC summer volunteer in Mississippi in 1964. The FSM builds, at least in part, on Savio's experiences in the Queens College 1961 student strike -- so it was not totally "unprededentd." Mlevy697 (talk) 13:45, 25 September 2011 (UTC) Mlevy697 (NYC) 25 Sept. 2011.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Mlevy697 (talkcontribs) 13:59, 25 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Edit request on 9 April 2013[edit]

I have several relevant images from the UCB sit-in on October 1, and many other relevant images for the protests in front of Sproul surrounding the Freedom Summer. Jacob irwin (talk) 12:33, 9 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not done: Vague requests to add, update, modify, or improve an image are generally not honored unless you can point to a specific image already uploaded to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons that you would like included on this article. Please note that any image used on any Wikipedia article must comply with the Wikipedia image use policy, particularly where copyright is concerned. —KuyaBriBriTalk 17:36, 9 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Erroneous line[edit]

"The group's primary goals were to promote the ideas of the Cuban Revolution and weaken the Cold War consensus.[2]"

This is preposterous. The citation is from a right-wing think tank publication, and I suspect the intent was malicious. The Young Republicans and other conservative student groups that were part of the Free Speech Movement were not promoting the Cuban Revolution, I'm pretty sure. The whole article needs help, but that one is over the line.

Tom in Berkeley (talk) 23:09, 7 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sol Stern was a Known Former Member of the Group[edit]

Unless this reliable PBS article is wrong, he was familiar with the Berkeley scene.[1] While it is true that he did later shift rightwards, it is childish to keep erasing a very reliable resource who took part in the protests. It is same to say that facts like these should no longer be covered up, because the anti-imperial movement is lost and it is meaningless to keep covering up this information. Follow the NPOV policy please.2601:447:4101:AE6:F812:3BA8:AE28:D085 (talk) 22:32, 8 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I hope that an unbiased editor could review this attempt to insert previously unrecognized material into the lead concerning a figure not ref'd elsewhere in the article. NPOV? The editor's comments speak for themselves. Learner001 (talk) 16:36, 10 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm afraid your definition of "unbiased" is kinda how Sol Stern explained why he left the cause of the Free Speech Movement. Blocking out your opposition to promote your views is not okay. We can at least compromise.2601:447:4101:AE6:6974:B26B:81B:BA64 (talk) 02:17, 12 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have zero personal interest or stake in this article, but it's clear that you do. I suggest you move your material to an appropriate place further down in the article and remove it from the lead (first paragraph). Otherwise, a far less patient editor with credentials to block you is going to come across the material and delete it as well. So, it's an interesting take on the subject, but document it better, and move it down. Best wishes! Learner001 (talk) 15:06, 12 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


There should be a section on the legacy of the movement, as well as its relation to activism today. Benjamin (talk) 14:24, 14 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Today UCB students use the free speech steps to protest the freedom of speech of right wings, conservatives, and liberals who oppose their ideas, for example the protest against Milo Yiannopoulos. UCB claims to be forward thinking in everything it does, while saying conservatives are backwards thinkers, while in todays culture they want to get rid of freedom of speech. Due to protests during the presidential election, and during the presidency of Donald Trump, the "Today" section of the page ought to reflect that UCB students are now against freedom. (talk) 14:07, 11 August 2017 (UTC) Yggdrasil75Reply[reply]

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Free Speech Movement. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

This message was posted before February 2018. After February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{source check}} (last update: 18 January 2022).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 14:42, 7 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

References page is Forbidden[edit]

Refrence leads to a forbiden website, which states "Forbidden You don't have permission to access /orgs/cwluherstory/jofreeman/sixtiesprotest/berkeley.htm on this server."

I don't know wikipedia's policies on citations, I would imagine that they should be verifiable. I also imagine this is just an oversite which hasn't been updated. Perhaps someone could find a mirrior or another citation of the same information. (talk) 20:55, 28 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Different Recollection[edit]

I was a student and then an employee at UCLA at the time the Free Speech Movement began at UC Berkeley (UCB). While the Movement did not initially attract as much participation at UCLA as at UCB, the events leading up to the Movement appeared well known at UCLA.

As I recall, there was an area just outside of Sather Gate where the sidewalk was owned by the city of Berkeley, not by UCB. Thus, it was not under the jurisdiction of the UC Board of Regents. Students used that area for soliciting support for various political activities and issues, something they could not do on UCB property.

UCB owned a strip of land nearby that the city of Berkeley wanted, possibly to widen a street. However, California law made the sale of that land by the Board of Regents to the city quite complicated (but not impossible). It was easier to arrange an exchange of real estate. Thus, UCB obtained the sidewalk outside of Sather Gate, and the city obtained its desired strip of land. This exchange received very little publicity.

At about that time, workers at the Oakland Tribune newspaper went on strike. The newspaper was owned by U.S. Senator William Knowland. Students just outside of Sather Gate were soliciting support for the strikers. The students apparently did not know of the land exchange and that they were on UCB property, but Knowland did know this. Knowland called another newspaper publisher, Dorothy Chandler. Chandler not only shared Knowland's anti-union philosophy and his Republican conservatism; she was also on the UC Board of Regents. Knowland requested that Chandler prevent the UCB students from aiding the striking workers at his newspaper. Chandler contacted the chancellor at UCB about Knowland's concern. The ruckus at UCB that expanded into the Free Speech Movement began when UCB campus police moved to evict the students from the sidewalk just outside Sather Gate.

DERoss (talk) 04:51, 1 October 2021 (UTC)DERoss <>Reply[reply]

Wrong year[edit]

The picture of Savio appears to be from 1966. There are lots of images of Savio from '64, and his hair was shorter then... --Neopeius (talk) 03:06, 20 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]