Berkeley's new Free Speech Movement Café, honoring 1964
struggle, to be dedicated Thursday
José Rodríguez, Development Communications
landmark struggle that guaranteed free speech in 1964 is being
honored with a new café at the University of California,
Berkeley - the birthplace of the student movement that resonated
across the country.
Free Speech Movement Café will be dedicated tomorrow
(Thursday, Feb. 3) at a 5 p.m. ceremony that will include alumni
of the movement, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl, and
alumnus Stephen M. Silberstein, whose gift funded the new space
at the James K. Moffitt Undergraduate Library.
a seemingly endless variety of local coffee shops, the café,
which opened last month, is not just another cool place for
UC Berkeley students to grab a cup of java. It was designed
as an educational venture with permanent and rotating exhibits
around the theme of free inquiry, befitting its namesake movement.
1,460-square-foot space features wall-length images of events
that occurred at UC Berkeley in a three-month period between
October and December of 1964, when students demanded that the
university honor their right to advocate political causes on
the café, the university is acknowledging the impact
of the 1964 movement to question the purpose of universities
and education in general, said Berdahl, a professor of history
and public policy at UC Berkeley. It offers a point of reference
to today's students, inviting them to become familiar with a
part of UC Berkeley's history and to understand how commonplace
rights came to be recognized.
Free Speech Movement created a culture of student expression
and inquiry that today is intrinsic to Berkeley and higher education
in general," the chancellor said. "Berkeley's excellence
rests, in part, on our intellectual culture that embraces free
speech and the critical and civil exchange of ideas."
$3.5-million gift that funded the café also established
a Free Speech Movement digitized archive at the Bancroft Library
and a much-needed endowment to supplement the university's collections
in the humanities.
1964, free speech was not guaranteed for students, and they
were barred from advocating for political causes on campus.
Berkeley philosophy student Mario Savio challenged this prohibition
by launching a nonviolent movement that asked students, faculty,
and administrators at UC Berkeley to rethink their roles in
a university setting.
Oct. 1, 1964, campus police arrested Jack Weinberg, 24, for
setting up an unauthorized table in Sproul Plaza on behalf of
The Congress on Racial Equality. For 32 hours, students blocked
the police car with Weinberg inside, while Savio and others
climbed atop it to deliver speeches defending the constitutional
right to freedom of expression.
months of unprecedented activism followed, culminating in a
student strike and sit-in on Dec. 2. Police and law-enforcement
officials arrested nearly 800 protesters - the largest
mass arrest in California history.
the days following, the UC Berkeley faculty voted to drop university
restrictions on speech.
café is a living tribute to the intellectual courage,
heart, and sacrifice of Mario Savio and those students who stepped
forward in 1964 for the rights of students who so desired to
be able to participate in societal discussions and actions concerning
issues of the day," said Silberstein. "Despite great
personal and family sacrifice, they spoke up for the ideals
upon which our society is based and in which we all believe:
a more just world, civil rights, and the removal of limitations
on the free discussion and advocacy of ideas. We're better off
as a country because of what happened here."
attended UC Berkeley before the Free Speech Movement and served
as a University Library computer systems analyst for 10 years
before co-founding his own company, Innovative Interfaces. The
Emeryville-based company develops automated systems for libraries,
including more than 1,000 college and university libraries around
who influenced not only life at UC Berkeley, but at universities
around the world, went on to raise a family and, while shying
from the limelight, remained firm to principles of activism
and social justice, speaking out on many causes until his death
present at the dedication ceremony will be Savio's widow, Lynne
Hollander, and his two sons, Nadav and Daniel.
café was designed by Swatt Architects. The University
Library is the fourth-largest academic research library in the
United States and Canada in terms of the number of items in
at has been these four years."