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The Beginning of the FSM


What Happened Before the FSM
Prior Student Movements
What led to the FSM?
SLATE Archives website
SLATE and Due Process
Civil Rights Movement

The "United Front" becomes the "Free Speech Movement"

David Goines, The Free Speech Movement, Ten Speed Press, 1993

10/3/1964 Meeting

Mario Savio: I had the feeling that “FSM” was suggested by Jack. There were a lot of possibilities. But we wanted the initials to be something like “fln” which was easy to say.  Not something like “urm,” which sounded kind of “earthy.” “University Rights Movement” was OK, but not “urm.” It’s a great name, but there’s a certain kind of humor floating around in “urm” that isn’t appropriate to the Free Speech Movement. 

Bob Starobin: The name “FSM” was proposed by Jack Weinberg. Another name was “Students for Civil Liberties.” I favored Jack’s suggestion because it was something that could be written on the walls, like in Paris or Algiers. The name was adopted by a margin of one vote.  The mood of this first meeting, at Art Goldberg’s place, was naive and with no conception of the struggle we were entering. Nobody had any idea that this was going to last for very long.


But the institutional provocations and student organizing began earlier:

Several Other Chronologies

Chronology of Events
Three Months of Crisis - Part One
From the U.C. Berkeley alumnii magazine
California Monthly
February, 1965

September 10 [1964]

     A letter authored by "a former student" and distributed with the Slate Supplement Report called for an "open, fierce and thoroughgoing rebellion" on the Berkeley campus. Although the letter did not relate specifically to the "free speech issue," it sounded the rallying cry for subsequent events:

   The University does not deserve a response of loyalty and allegiance from you. There is only one proper response to Berkeley from undergraduates: that you ORGANIZE AND SPLIT THIS CAMPUS WIDE OPEN! . . .

   "Go to the top. Make your demands to the Regents. If they refuse to give you an audience: start a program of agitation, petitioning, rallies, etc., in which the final resort will be CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. In the long run, there is the possibility that you will find it necessary to perform civil disobedience at a couple of major University public ceremonies . . ."

September 15

     The Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination -- led by former Berkeley student and Slate founder Michael Myerson and by Tracy Sims, leader of the Palace Hotel demonstrations -- announced plans to picket the Oakland Tribune for the third Friday in a row, and held a noon rally at the Bancroft and Telegraph entrance to the Berkeley campus.

September 16

1. Presidents or chairmen and advisers of all student organizations received a letter from Dean of Students Katherine A. Towle, dated Sept. 14, announcing that, effective Sept. 21, tables would no longer be permitted in the 26-foot strip of University property at the Bancroft and Telegraph entrance, and that advocative literature and activities on off-campus political issues also would be prohibited:

A facultyChronology points to event in June, 1964


June     During Republican National Convention, according to San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Dec. 1964, charges are made by Goldwater supporters that Scranton supporters are illegally recruiting student volunteers on campus.

4 Sept  Picketing of Oakland Tribune by Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination, which recruits support on Berkeley campus