Essay on Berkely Protest 1960s Final Draft

Submitted By alilep
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Student Protest in Berkeley in the 1960’s
Maria Alejandra Porras
The George Washington University
Professor: Jennifer Bertolet
American Multicultural Perspective

10 October 2013

Student Protest in Berkeley in the 1960’s A protest is an expression of disagreement or opposition to any kind of situation. It can be mass demonstrations or individual assertions. Protesters attempt to influence, hold pressure and persuade public opinion and the government to change the state policies. In the 1950s the House Un-American Activities committee created a climate of fear by putting people on probation for their political believes. Pressured by this situation, college students set out on a journey of revolutionary changes; from an atmosphere of conformism, a new dissident spirit began to emerge. The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a driven factor to promote political change that supported civil rights. Furthermore, the sixties was a time of massive strikes around the country and their development and constant performance supported the civil rights to the extent of achieving a change in the US government policies. (Glazer, 1967). In 1964 when Berkeley University students returned to campus from their spring vacations, they found out that the tables that were used to support civil right causes outside campus were banned. These tables were used to promote political and social action towards off campus issues and contained valuable information about the ongoing governmental situation. Students began to question the university’s decision making as it directly implied the exclusion of civil participation and political activity within the school. Two separate forces came together in the FSM. The first force fought for freedom advocacy and organization to conduct political and social campaigns. The second force was based in terms of supporting the left wing and civil rights. The controversy between the Berkeley students and the members of faculty was pressuring both sides in opposition but it was one particular event which caused massive activism and disorder in campus. The 1st of October 1964, Jack Weinberg, a graduate student sitting on the central table, was arrested when he refused to show his identification to the campus police. This created an enormous reaction of unity by the students declared as the “Free Speech Movement”, where people gathered in a peaceful protest or “sit-ins”, around the car police where Weinberg was transported in order to express their opinion towards free speech and academic freedom. During the next two days more than 3000 student protested preventing the execution of normal classes at Berkeley University. Students were waiting to negotiate their permission to continue political activism in campus. Police arrested more than 700 students for the disturbances they caused (Glazer, 1967). The sit-ins were the first major involvement of students fighting for civil right. For the first time young began to see themselves as an oppressed class. Many students from numerous universities around the US were encouraged to join the students’ activism. These students tended to participate in various demonstrations including the African-American Civil Rights movement, and continued to promote students involvement in any protests that supported their free expression of political issues. The Free Speech Movement was considered a success. After the students disorder, the university police began to backed down. Teachers supported students during the protest by protecting them from penalties imposed by the department heads and the University administration. Students were asked to not attend classes, teachers to stop teaching, and staff to discontinue reporting for work. For two days the administrative and the academic bodies of the University were paralyzed. The next month a larger protest was raised when the university tried to accuse the students who organized the sit-ins and participate