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The Free Speech Movement at 40
Greybeards join with today’s ASUC in planning a weeklong commemoration of 1964-65’s watershed events

30 September 2004

Any attempt to mark the “anniversary” of the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement requires that you first identify its genesis. Was it the mid-September 1964 announcement by Dean of Students Katherine Towle that advocacy literature and activities on off-campus political issues would no longer be permitted within “the 26-foot strip of brick walkway at the campus entrance on Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue”? Was it the Oct. 1 arrest of Jack Weinberg on Sproul Plaza (followed by the 32-hour immobilization of the police car in which he was placed) that took place after much debate and demonstration in response to Towle’s directive? Or the arrival on campus, a day later, of some 500 police and Highway Patrol officers, some armed with riot sticks, as the crowd of onlookers and protest sympathizers swelled to more than 7,000?

Identifying the beginning of the FSM, for all its chronological difficulties, is easier than pointing to its conclusion ... for in myriad ways, the movement’s ripple effects are still very much with us. Between Oct. 4 and 10, a commemoration of the FSM will occur on and near the Berkeley campus. Organized by FSM veterans in collaboration with the ASUC, “FSM@40: Free Speech in a Dangerous Time” will honor the movement and its legacy with film showings, panel discussions, rallies, and performances. A selective list of their program highlights follows:

• A screening of the documentary Berkeley in the ’60s will lead off the week’s activities at noon on Monday, Oct. 4, in the Free Speech Movement Cafe at Moffitt Library.

• Political columnist Molly Ivins will deliver the 2004 Mario Savio Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at Zellerbach Hall; presentation of the Young Activist Award will follow. There will be no advance ticket sales or reservations; tickets will be available in Lower Sproul Plaza the day of the event from 5 p.m. onward on a first-come, first-served basis.

• At noon on Friday, Oct. 8, a rally in Sproul Plaza will include such notables as Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, activist attorney Tony Serra, State Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, and Telegraph Ave. icon Julia Vinograd. Later that day, at 6:30 p.m., journalist Seymour Hersh, who broke the story of the Abu Ghraib prison abuses in The New Yorker, will give a talk in the MLK Student Union’s Pauley Ballroom. Overlapping slightly with Hersh will be a dissection of the second presidential debate at 7:30 p.m. in Lower Sproul Plaza (following a broadcast of the debate viewable in the same location), with commentary by political satirist Paul Krassner, author and radio commentator Scoop Nisker, KPFA’s Kris Welch, and Berkeley professor of English Ishmael Reed.

• Several panel discussions on aspects of civil liberties will take place on Saturday, Oct. 9, between 10 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. One panel, on “Civil Discourse and Student Discipline,” will include Dean of Students Karen Kenney and last year’s Graduate Assembly president, Jessica Quindel. Others will tackle the relationship between civil liberties and the media, drug policy, marriage equality, academic freedom, reproductive rights, racial justice, and other issues.

For specific times and locations of these and other events, visit www.fsm-a.org/stacks/FSMat40/program.html, where changes to the week’s schedule continue to be made.