Statement of the Board of Directors 
of the Free Speech Movement Archives,

July 30, 1999, regarding the 

KPFA / Pacifica controversy:

The Free Speech Movement Archives was established to disseminate information about the 1964 struggle for free speech on the Berkeley campus.

Pacifica radio, in the form of KPFA, was a vital link between the campus political organizations of 1964, the campus community, and the community at large. At a time when newspaper, radio and TV reporting was hopelessly slanted, KPFA was a beacon of fair reporting and open discussion of issues of concern to the Free Speech Movement. Its coverage of the Bay Area civil rights movement, the rise of the New Right, and the developing war in Vietnam helped us understand the context within which the University was moving to stifle dissent. Without KPFA's reporting of our campus conflict, the Free Speech Movement would have faced a much more difficult task in securing the political rights of citizenship for students.

We now find that the Pacifica Foundation, created by the founders of KPFA as merely an institutional vehicle to hold the license, has developed a bureaucracy and policy of its own which seem counterposed to the survival of stations like KPFA. In apparent pursuit of mindless growth and bureaucratic self-aggrandizement, Pacifica has moved to shut down KPFA as a community-based information channel. This has been made possible by the undemocratic insulation of Pacifica from its roots in the stations and their subscribers.

Like the University administration which galvanized the Free Speech Movement, the Pacifica Foundation may have secured the technical right to this level of control, but it has failed to recognize the community's passion to exercise the rights guaranteed to citizens. In both cases a swift response from communities that held important stakes in free communication broke through the facade of "business as usual" and brought the issue to the forefront of public attention.

Both struggles have brought larger issues into focus. While the Free Speech Movement began over a fairly narrow issue, it quickly raised larger issues of the undemocratic nature of the university structure. The present conflict has revealed the slow erosion of the community radio ethos throughout the Pacifica network, and the fact that undemocratic structures are a positive danger to media serving community needs. The Board of the Free Speech Movement Archives supports the struggle of the KPFA broadcast staff and volunteers in seeking to keep the station firmly based in the local community. We support the effort to ensure that all Pacifica stations are part of an open, democratic structure. From our experience, we know that it is impossible to overestimate the value of an open forum to the life of the community.

(The following Board members have abstained from voting on this resolution: 
 Margot Adler, Kate Coleman and Reginald Zelnik.


Statements from Individual FSM Vets:

Lee Felsenstein's thoughts - 7/19/99

Kitty Piper's Statement - 7/31/99

(submit any other statements to for posting here.)


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