On September 30, 1964, the first large-scale antiwar demonstration in the United States is staged at the University of California at Berkeley, by students and faculty opposed to the war. Nevertheless, polls showed that a majority of Americans supported President Lyndon Johnson’s policy on the war. As I researched to find images to go with the story, I find that it was not just about the war but was about freedom of speech and civil rights.
In the fall of 1964 student activists at UC Berkeley, some of whom had traveled with the Freedom Riders and worked to register African American voters in Mississippi in the Freedom Summer project, had set up information tables on campus and were soliciting donations for civil rights causes.
On September 30 Mario Savio, Arthur Goldberg and Sandor Fuchs lead more than 500 students in protest outside the Presidents Office in Sproul Hall, demanding that they be able to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech. It was on this day that Savio would deliver his famous speech on the Multiversity
Over 500 students would eventually occupy the Sproul building, before being met by anti-protests from numerous fraternities and other student groups. The conflict between FSM members and other students would nearly descend into a riot. Eventually, campus administrators would engage in further negotiations with the students, as they realized that continuing conflict could rip the campus apart.
Joan Baez at Berkeley sit in.
Berkeley, Baez, 1964: Times have changed.
The administration of the University of California of Berkeley, at the behest of Senator William Knowland, forbade students from organizing on campus for off-campus political activity, such as the daily picket lines sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) that were then occurring in front of restaurants in Oakland’s Jack London Square that refused to hire men & women of color. The students felt that this ban was clearly an unconstitutional abridgement of the rights of the freedom of speech & assembly and determined to challenge it with a test case. One student, Jack Weinberg, set up a card table at the Bancroft Way entrance to Sproul Plaza and was promptly taken into custody by the campus police who deposited him into a Berkeley police car for a quick trip down to the station.