things started happening. It started when the young kids down South sat on lunch counter
stools, got beaten off them, thrown into compounds, and hosed down in freezing winter
nights. They were doing something for all of us. But the NAACP said, "Not so
fast." [Martin Luther] King's organization grew out of this. But when the young
students started sitting in more, his people said, "Not so fast; not so fast."
And the NAACP said, "Why don't you do it like King did it originally?" Well,
it's an old tale, and we'll hear a lot more of it. Everybody saying, "Not so
fast." "Don't be radical; don't rock the boat; be nice." Meanwhile the
sit-ins went on, and civil disobedience became the main tool. The NAACP had been fooling
around with legal things for years; they never got anybody anywhere much.
&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP; The only life in the country in those
years was in the South. And then it started spreading to the North. There were a lot of us
depressed by the silence, by the injustice, by the fact that the generations that should
have been leading us -- our parents and our teachers -- quite simply had the spirit kicked
out of them. And meanwhile, there were all these terrible things going on. And it wasn't
just the radicals or college kids. Even my secretary friends who never participated in
political stuff would sometimes wake up screaming, dreaming of atom bombs.
sketched the early years of student activism, the way it spread, and its first cresting
here in 1960, in the protests against the House Unamerican Activities Committee and
Chessman's execution, recognized across the nation as the birth-cry of the New Left.]
Anyway, the conflict of these last two weeks began in the '50s. As the [political]
interests of students up North, and particularly in Berkeley, mounted at an accelerating
rate, so did the repressive measures directed against them. I don't want to speculate
about motives; when I say repressive measures, I'm speaking purely phenomenologically,
about the effect of the measures. Some of the motives were absolutely wretched, and some
were in good faith, carried out by people who thought they were doing the best thing.
Likewise I'm going to speak continually of the Administration here as a monolith, and I
want to apologize. I know it's not; it's composed of individual men. One I've known for
thirteen years, and I count others as friends; they have done me many favors. I think they
are good men; they are honest, they are conscientious, they are concerned. But the effect
of their work in the Administration is monolithic. And repressive.
remember the repressive things that happened here before late 1961, when I dropped out of
politics. Like with the Daily Californian, the campus paper. In 1960 the Daily
Californian was one of the four best college papers in the country and was perhaps the
most responsible paper on the entire West Coast. Its people took Journalism seriously.
They believed that a newspaper was a vehicle for issues of consequence to its readers. So
they were very active in mobilizing support for things like the Chessman and HUAC
demonstrations, and nuclear disarmament -- not that they advocated these things directly,
but they printed information. Just information. I can almost believe that all this
business about free speech means something. These last years have almost beaten the belief
out of me. I don't see that the First Amendment, all this nonsense, has anything to do
with the reality I live in. And yet, the truth was that during those years, the Daily
Californian was a good paper, and it printed good stories. It printed both sides of a
question, and people read it and were moved to act. In fall of 1960, it endorsed the SLATE
candidates for office.
Administration was hurting from SLATE. SLATE had been the major organizing force on
campus. A lot of adverse publicity came on the University for the HUAC hassle in San
Francisco, as well as the other activities that SLATE carried on. And the Daily Cal
endorsed a SLATE candidate. Now in previous years it had endorsed fraternity candidates
for the student executive board. No stink was raised. This time, a stink was raised,
censorship was instituted, and the whole staff walked out. They printed the last issue of
the paper with a black border: "They are wiping out freedom of the press, we
to set up an independent paper. [The Independent Californian, four years before the LA
Free Press and the Berkeley Barb became the first underground papers.] It didn't work.
Things like this never work; there are never enough people willing to give their support.
That's just the way it is. That's what our world is like. The Administration recruited a
scab staff, who started putting out the Daily Cal again. Well, nobody's read it
much for the last four years; it's been a house organ. And so our main medium of mass
communication was wiped out; we were left with occasional rallies. But you can't
communicate things to people in twenty-four hours; it takes years.
thing that happened was the Administration says, "We've got to keep this place free
from influence." They give us the Kerr Directives, they reinterpret them and
reinterpret them. They set up a completely artificial distinction between "on-campus
issues" and "off-campus issues." And it was a big joke at, the time. A big
and very bitter joke. We said, "Well, the fallout falls on the campus too." But
we didn't get anywhere. So all of a sudden all these organizations that were on campus
since the fifties, since the beginning, they're off-campus. They can't use the University
facilities. That practically wiped SLATE out. I was never a member, I hardly ever went to
meetings, back when I was politically active. But SLATE was a vital educating force, a
vital organizing force. It staggered along, downhill all the way, and hasn't had much
effect since then. And notice when the Administration says, "They have to be
off-campus." It's when SLATE started being effective.
were the graduate students. They thought the Associated Students, the ASUC, was a sandbox
government. And it was: the Administration dictated the resolution it passed to affirm the
Kerr Directives [restricting student politics on campus.] Some graduates objected
to being forced to pay the membership fee. So those in power sent out a questionnaire.
Nobody knows how they picked the particular graduate students they polled. They asked,
"Do you want to be in the ASUC, or don't you?" Of those who returned the
questionnaire, most said "No." So, the Administration said, well, it's very
simple, and they abolished graduate membership in the ASUC. They did not make it
voluntary, you know, which is what we would have wanted. They abolished it by fiat.
of this was to wipe out graduate leadership in campus politics. The undergraduates are
transients. They start very young, they stay here at best four years. The only chance for
responsible continuous leadership in student affairs lies with the graduate students, who
stay here for years and years, because it takes a long time to get a Ph.D., whether or not
you're involved in politics.
Administration wiped the graduate students out of the action. Then they finished
re-organizing "our" student government and its Executive Committee, which
activists were coming to control. They changed Ex Com to the ASUC Senate, in a way that
put it back in the hands of the Greek system and dorms minority and minimized
Administration fired good instructors, who had been active politically. I'll talk a bit
about that later. There were other things that happened; I forget them. The point is that
as the students' interest in things grew, repressive measures upon their involvement grew
in proportion, to cut down communication, leadership, power. That's how it goes. Most of
the measures [the Kerr Directives] were passed like in the middle of second summer
session, when there was almost nobody on campus, no one to make a protest.
end of this time I simply divorced myself from student politics. I mean from politics
entirely, because I was never able to draw a line between student politics and politics in
the big world. I don't believe there is one, I have never believed that. And it got to be
too much, they kept beating us down, pushing us off the campus where we belonged. Each
time it was heartbreaking, and I just got tired of fighting. Over the past three years
I've been in very few political activities, been involved in more private things.
But I know
the surface of what's been happening. There was a relative vacuum for a couple of years
after the paper got wiped out and SLATE was shoved off-campus. Then things started picking
up again. I don't understand why, but they did. The long chain of sympathy picketing of
Woolworth stores started. After that there were sit-ins at drive-in restaurants, shop-ins
at stores, sit-ins at the Sheraton-Palace hotel, at Cadillac, at Bank of America, at the Oakland
Tribune -- that was roughly the progression on the Civil Rights front. On the Civil
Liberties front, there was fighting against the film HUAC [the House Un-American
Activities Committee] put out, giving their doctored version of the 1960 "riot".
There were protests for disarmament, and so on. Things started gathering momentum again,
kept going, and kept growing.
two weeks on campus, then, they were not two weeks. They were the culmination of six
***** When we get back to school
this fall, Dean Towle of the Administration hands down this order. For years there had
been these tables on the edge of the campus, at Bancroft and Telegraph, where
organizations handed out literature, solicited members, and collected funds. They were
there, because they used to be on campus -- right in the heart of campus, Dwinelle Plaza
-- but the Administration pushed them off. We used to be able to stand up under the
Dwinelle Oak and talk, and advocate things. They stopped that too.
So Dean Towle said, "No more tables. They
block the flow of traffic." So we say -- I mean the students, because I didn't get
into this until later -- so we say, "Gee, we don't think they block traffic. Tell you
what, we'll put up the money to get an independent organization to make a survey of the
traffic flow." The Administration doesn't reply to this. So we start to hold
meetings. Suddenly, a week later, the reason changes. We can't have tables because of the
Kerr Directives, which have always been there. Always for like three years! The tables had
been on campus for at least fifteen! "They've always been there," they tell us,
"and we're just getting around to realizing what they really mean." So just out
of thin air, they give this additional thing -- well, anyway, it becomes illegal, by the
Administration's rules, to hand out literature there. Let alone advocate things, let alone
collect money and members.
Meetings go on, more students keep getting
upset. A week later, suddenly, the Directives are reinterpreted again. The Administration
tells us we can have tables at Bancroft to distribute information. Just information. Well,
that suggested the tables hadn't blocked traffic in the first place. But the
Administration never got around to admitting this.
But this wasn't enough, we still couldn't
advocate things. There were so many contradictions. The University is spending quite a bit
of money advocating Proposition 2, a bond issue, but they won't let us advocate against
Proposition 14, a [racist] "fair housing" ordinance. Insurance men come into the
card files, which are open to the public, and collect our names, and try to sell us
insurance, but we can't collect names of people who want to help [Civil Rights work] in
the South. The Peace Corps recruits members on campus to help overseas; we can't recruit
people who want to help in this country. The University sends out United Crusade envelopes
to employees -- I've worked for it, your superior asks you for your envelope back. They
keep check lists of who brings envelopes full of money and who doesn't. But youcan't
collect money on campus to send some clothes down to Negroes in the South who have been
So all this was rather upsetting, and people still
weren't satisfied. So a vigil was held, all night, on the steps of Sproul, the
Administration building. I finally got interested enough to go to a vigil again. It was
the worst one I'd seen; I mean I didn't like the people in it at all. They seemed to be
the young kids who hang out on Telegraph Avenue; there was a lot of wine, guitars, it all
seemed pretty rowdy. I felt very alienated, so I went home at 2 A.M. Still, a hundred or
so stayed all night. And the next day or so, the Administration got around to saying,
"Well, you can advocate things." They reinterpreted the Directives again. They
never gave a reason for these successive reinterpretations.
Well, this still wasn't enough to restore our
effectiveness. The University had shoved all these organizations off-campus and then
graciously permitted them these tables in the last three or four years. And this is how
the organizations kept alive. What it meant for them to be denied the
"privilege" to collect money and to recruit members on campus -- a right that
exists at every state and junior college in California -- was that they'd die. And in
particular this meant CORE and SNCC [our main Civil Rights organizations.]
The attack on the tables seems to have been triggered by
the Oakland Tribune. Bill Knowland's reactionary paper. We heard that Knowland got
very upset during the Republican convention when Scranton supporters were being recruited
on campus here. And he got even more upset when members of an ad-hoc Civil Rights
coalition started picketing his paper every Friday night between five and seven o'clock.
So someone from the Trib called the Administration, to inquire about the tables
where the pickets are recruited. And the Administration decided they were illegal. Of
course, the University is supposed to be free from sectarian political influence from the
So the effect of the last little points that the
Administration wouldn't grant us -- to solicit money and membership on campus -- would be
precisely to wipe out the organizations causing the most active distress in the community,
the most effective student organizations. I don't want to belabor the significance of
this: to anybody who's followed the [recent] Civil Rights events in the city, it should be
These, I think, are the real pragmatic issues
involved. I didn't feel this originally, but there are some theoretical issues involved
too. Like freedom of speech. The Supreme Court says free speech alone is not enough. Like,
fine, you can hand out literature, but you've got to be able to get the money to print it
up to hand it out. In fact, you've got to be able to get the members to print it up too.
So these two little remaining points are directly connected with the free speech issue.
first time ever, all the political groups on the campus united in opposing what the
Administration was doing. Not only the various socialist splinter groups, and CORE and
SNCC, and the Young Democrats, who have never been very radical. Also the Young
Republicans, Students for Goldwater, and even the Intercollegiate Society of
Individualists, whom my political friends think of as young fascists. It was really a
United Front, very strange political bedfellows. Because after all, here was a
Constitutional issue. And people said, "Don't be unreasonable, be moderate.
Compromise is the central thing in a democracy. The Administration has come forward to
meet your demands a bit; why don't you give a bit on these last two things?" But it
wasn't a question of giving a bit on them. For six years they had been shoving us off
campus, trying to knock down our leadership, our media, to knock down our organizations,
to wipe them out completely. This was not a new thing, and these were not two minor
And I want to make a point about tactics. There
are a lot of people around, even in this community, who look on the Civil Rights
demonstrations in the City as very unfortunate. They say, "How terrible: these kids
get a cause, and they rush in and they perform hasty actions." But every single civil
disobedience thing that has happened was preceded by months, sometimes over a year, of
patient negotiation. And it was like this here. We had been negotiating not for two weeks.
We had been negotiating for six years.
In all those previous times, what we did, we
negotiated. We did everything through the approved channels. We wrote letters to our
Congressmen, letters to the local newspapers, letters to the Daily Cal, letters to
the University administrators. We went in and saw them individually, and as group
representatives, and in groups. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened. We negotiated, we
set up committees, we signed petitions, sometimes they had 5,000 signatures on them. We
circulated petitions in the faculty. The faculty set up committees. We picketed. And what
did we get for these six years, every time there was a repressive measure? We got nothing.
We got back in those years not one inch of the ground that was taken away from us. We were
nice all the way; we were very unhappy, but we were nice. endspan -->
So it's Tuesday, I guess, that they say, "To
hell with it. We give up. We're going to set up the tables on campus. We're going to set
up the tables, and we're going to ask for money. We're going to ask for members." So
they set them up, and some people sat down at them. And the Administration came along and
took their names, and sentenced them to indefinite suspension. By some coincidence, the
five students were CORE and SNCC members. By some coincidence they were precisely the
leaders in the movement. There were a lot of people sitting at the tables, but the
Administration picked these to suspend. It happens, and there's not much you can say about
it. You learn to expect it. You learn to expect to get beaten every step of the way.
That afternoon, the Dean of Men wanted to see the
five students. But by this time over 400 students had signed a piece of paper that said,
"I sat at the table too. I want equal treatment. Suspend me too." And somehow
the five got into their heads that they weren't five any more; they were 400. And they all
went and said this to the Dean, and asked him about all the other people who had been
sitting there when the five leaders' names were taken. And he said, "Well, I'm sorry.
We can only deal with observed violations, not unobserved violations." They said,
"How can we negotiate if our leaders have been suspended?" So he canceled the
negotiating meeting that had been set up for 4:00.
Well, what can you say? They stayed in Sproul Hall
and began a small sit-in. There were a hundred there at midnight when they got word that
the five had been suspended from school, "indefinitely," and three more too. The
three weren't even notified; they didn't know why, people thought it was for helping
organize the afternoon protest. It was very confused, and after a while everyone went
So the next morning I was sitting around on the
Terrace, wondering what was going to happen. Everyone felt sure something would. Lo and
behold, they bring the tables out again and set them up right in front of the
Administration building. And they sit down at the tables again and put out membership
lists and start collecting donations.
This time, there's a "non-student" sitting at
one of the tables. He's a member of one of the organizations, he graduated last year, in
mathematics. And the University police come along and arrest him. He goes limp; what else
can you do? And so four cops carry him to this police car that's sitting in the middle of
the Plaza. And a crowd starts gathering, and some people sit down in front of the police
car, and behind the police car. The police don't like this. Luckily at this stage it was
only campus cops, and as cops go, campus cops are pretty nice. As cops go. In a while it
is noon, there are 3,000 people around this police car in Sproul Plaza. Around the car
hundreds are sitting down; they don't want it to be moved.
Then somebody gets on top of the car -- the cops let him
-- to talk to the crowd, it was unhappy. And then this incredible dialogue began. People
got up on top of that car from before noon Wednesday, they were talking until two in the
morning. All different points of view were offered. The top of that car was a platform
thrown open to anybody who wanted to come up and say what he had to say. I have never
heard anything like this in my life. It was a continuous dialogue that went on for fifteen
And people stopped and listened to it. And people
voted. If you've never seen 3,000 people voting, it's a very strange thing; 3,000 people
in, as the newspapers described it, "a mob scene." So many people on a political
issue had never been seen on campus, a large political demonstration on campus is maybe
300. Several faculty members told me that the Chancellor became absolutely hysterical --
they used those words -- and complained "he would not listen to reason." It
seems to me that the rest of the Administration was pretty hysterical too.
Around three, some of us went into Sproul Hall and
sat down in the corridor. We were going to block the Dean of Men's office. Why the Dean of
Men? Well, he couldn't do anything, and the Chancellor said he couldn't and wouldn't do
anything, and the President said he couldn't and wouldn't do anything. And you know, after
six years of hearing this, you get tired of hearing it. And you say, by God, there has to
be somebody around who can do something. So we sat down.
And crammed in in this hallway, we conducted a
four-hour dialogue on who we should bar from the office and who we shouldn't, and what
tactics to use, and what we were asking, and so on. Our general consensus was the
following demands, which we considered very moderate: That the arrested ex-student be
released; that the suspended students be reinstated, because they were our leaders and we
couldn't negotiate without them; that while the negotiations were being set up and while
they were in session, nobody else be suspended, before some final decision about on-campus
politics had been reached. That was all we asked. And they wouldn't listen, they wouldn't
grant us any of it.
While we were sitting there, some faculty
members came and talked to us. The faculty got upset when they saw 3,000 people sitting in
Sproul Plaza, and when they realized how hysterical and how intransigent the
Administration was. So they formed a committee, and they went negotiating with the
Administration, and they kept sending people back to us, reporting that they were not
getting very far. And they told us, "Look, we're trying to intervene in your behalf,
and we think it would be best if you'd clear out of Sproul Hall."
Well, I got very upset by their tone. I
mean, their hearts were in it and all, and some of my best friends are faculty members.
But why was it now that they were trying to intervene? What had they been doing for the
last two weeks? And the last six years? It upset me incredibly. Whose fight did they think
this was? We felt that the faculty and we were in this together. That this was free
speech, academic freedom, things like that. And where were they the last six years while
we were getting cut off?
But the faculty have always been like that,
except for some rare courageous individuals. At best sometimes some get concerned and try
to "moderate in our behalf." They're always unsuccessful. But all along, we felt
that we were fighting for the both of us. These are the men who should have been leading
us for all these years. Instead, these were the men who have been saying, "Cool down,
They've been like this for a long time. I don't
know when it started. During the fight over the Loyalty Oath, in the early '50s, a bunch
of faculty got thrown out. Most eventually crawled back in, and some couldn't get back in,
and a few fought it out. And why it all happened was, in my opinion -- and I really do
think that the time for being polite is past -- that the faculty hadn't the balls to stick
up for its own, and the students hadn't the balls to stick up for their faculty.
The faculty got crushed in '52, and they haven't
had the guts to do anything since. They've registered nice respectable protests, while
they watched the students get wiped off campus, and watched their own men get wiped off
too. For example, Professor [Richard] Drinnon in History. He came, because he believed
that students and faculty were political animals too. He took a very active part, he and
his wife, in the Chessman vigils, and he cheered us up an awful lot. After that, they
decided they couldn't rehire him. They said something about not enough money, and he
hadn't published enough. He had two books out, and a third at the press. In the opinion of
students and many colleagues, he was a brilliant teacher and a sharp historian. Did
anybody stick up for him? The faculty circulated a petition, we circulated a petition,
that's what it came to. Nobody walked out on a class. None of the other faculty up and
quit or anything. Two years later, it happened again.
Very few faculty were ever seen with us in public.
One [Tom Parkinson] walked the line with us at HUAC, many of us studied with him and loved
him. Sometime later, after all the press about the "riot," Goldwater stands up
in Congress to give people ideas about it being the duty of redblooded Americans to go and
kill Commies, and an anonymous hate pamphlet appears on campus about him. A couple of days
later somebody comes along with a shotgun and shoots him. Shoots him, and kills somebody
else in his office at the time, a poet, a friend of my friends. One of the few men who had
the guts to walk with us, and they shoot him. We're all alone; we've always been all
alone, all alone on all these things. Nobody has the courage to stand up with us, nobody
has the courage to say, "This is enough. There is a right and wrong, and you've got
to go all out for it, or you've had it."
So anyway, the faculty came and said, "Look,
why don't you get out of Sproul Hall; the Administration is hysterical; they absolutely
refuse to budge. They won't even grant the most reasonable demands as long as you're in
Sproul-- in fact, as long as this whole demonstration persists."
Well, we didn't want to get out, even after
sitting packed to the gills with people walking over us. But we said, "Look. Okay. We
don't believe it's going to do any good, but as a gesture of good faith, we'll make a
unilateral withdrawal from Sproul. As soon as we hear that the faculty and Administration
are negotiating together, we'll withdraw for an hour and a half. Or until quarter of 7:00,
whichever comes first." And they go away.
Now, the Sproul Hall doors have not been closed before
7:00 since 1942, supposedly by University law. So we sit there waiting for word. And no
word comes. Outside 2,000 students are sitting around this car. So at 6:20, the
Administration tells the campus cops to lock Sproul Hall, so we can get out, but so no one
else can get in. It was a grievous breach of good faith. A handful of guys said, "You
shouldn't lock the door," and then sat down in the door. The cops started dragging
them away, to lock it, just as we started coming downstairs from the Dean's Office. We saw
what was happening and went and sat down in the door too.
At first people are sitting there individually,
and the cops are dragging them away, and then we start linking and locking. And there's
this human lacework built into the doorway. There's maybe sixty of us in the doorway and
extending on both sides of it. We're not just linking arms. We're holding onto each other
for dear life. And we keep trying to contract the lace, to plug up the doorway. And the
cops are grabbing people under the chin, with their fingers dug in, and pulling them.
There was this one girl; I counted, thirteen of us were
holding onto her. And this cop has both of his hands in her hair, pulling as hard as he
can. And she's screaming. And between screams, she's saying, "Hold me tighter! Hold
me! Hold me!" and then she screams, and then she says, "Hold me!" I don't
want to make a big thing of it, but this is how it happened.
And we're lying on our backs twined like an
immense octopus, singing The Star-Spangled Banner, maybe because it's the first
thing that comes to mind, and women are screaming, and the cops are kicking people and
hitting people in the face. And this one cop comes jumping over, like last down, one yard
to go for a touchdown; the two lines crash up, and the fullback tries to pile his way over
the top. This cop comes jumping over, boots first, and goes out. Then he starts coming
back, to go in. Like fools, you know, we say, "Take your shoes off." And then we
take his shoes off for him.
I admit it was a very stupid thing to do, because
almost the only pictures that come out of all this day are of the cop with his shoes taken
off. And we get these big headlines about how we pulled this policeman down a flight of
stairs and took his cap and shoes off. But we wanted he should take his shoes off so he
wouldn't step in people's faces. It's not nice, that's all.
So somehow we hold the doorway. Sometime later we vote
-- of our own accord, mind you -- to leave. Because it was an empty position at that
point: they had us blocked out from the upper floors. So we left and joined the main
So it's Thursday night, and there are still well
over a thousand of us. And by this time we realize simply that we have to hold that car.
That car is the only thing we've gotten in six years. It's our car; it isn't the cops' car
any more. And so we start bringing sleeping bags. And the dialogue on top of the car
continues. People are getting up there and talking, and people are listening. And people
are voting on this, and people are voting on that.
It's almost enough to make you believe that if it
were given a chance, the democratic process might work. It just might work. People quoted
books as if books were relevant. They talked about the Greeks, and they talked about
theories of politics, as if it all meant something. And listening to them, I almost
believed for the first time in years that it did mean something.
And we're sitting there near midnight when this
kid Mario Savio -- he's twenty-one, I'm twenty- four, a kid too -- comes running up; I had
never seen him before the last few days. He was one of the leaders, one of the suspended
students. He talked pretty good; I gather he's a junior in philosophy. He's got a heart of
gold, he talks straight sense, and he's got an infinite amount of patience. Anyway, he'd
been up and down on the car during the day, and now he comes running up because some
people jumped him, right off campus. It turns out, this huge flood of fraternity boys has
come down. The paper says there were 200 of them. But there were not 200, there were over
a thousand. I have been estimating crowds for a long time. We're seated, packed in, and
they surround us and stand around, yelling and throwing tomatoes and eggs. And throwing
dozens of lit cigarettes into our ranks. When you're sat down like that you can't move,
and they're trampling people at the edges. Some of their own people got up to the car and
spoke to calm them down, and they threw eggs even at their own people, and Jew-baited
them. And they were screaming at us, "Get off the car, get off the car." They
wanted the car , and I think they wanted blood. And they were calling us Communists, and,
you know, we should go home and take a bath. God, would we have loved to go home and take
a bath. A bath and a shave, and sleep. But you can't. Because if you go home, there'll be
nobody there. And always before, we've gone home, and there's been nobody left.
Meanwhile, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department
men are standing in the background in their nice blue uniforms. And some of them are
egging the fraternity boys on. We appealed that they should form a line between them and
us, they should stop this, because it was an incredibly explosive situation. And they
yelled back, "We don't see that it's explosive." Faculty members appealed for
the same thing and got the same answer. So it stayed on being explosive.
It was like out of a fairy tale. Mario and a
girl named Jackie Goldberg were standing up there on top of the car and trying to reason
with them. Mario in particular, who'd been up I don't know how many hours and had been
talking all day, is trying to explain to them our position. And they keep yelling and
throwing things at him, and then he starts talking, and they start chanting, "Get off
the car," so nobody can hear him. And he waits till they're done, and he tries again,
and again, and again. This goes on for hours. To explain; to explain; to ask them to come
up and talk.
And meanwhile we're sitting there, scared to
death. I'm not particularly cowardly, but they grow them big in the fraternities, and
there are an awful lot of them. Somehow, tension bleeds away a little, and then this
priest comes and for the first time there is silence. He climbs on top of the car, and
some of the fraternity kids yell at him. But others silence them. And he says, roughly,
"This is a bad deal. There's a lot of hate here, and hate is bad. If you hate enough,
it means murder. I want you to think of that." Then he gets down, and an
Administration representative comes and says, "Go away."
After that, after hours and hours of speaking, we
just shut up.
There was very little chance for sleep after all
that. There were few fortunate enough to have sleeping bags. Some of us tried to sleep on
the lawn, and got sopping when the automatic sprinkler system went on at five. Most got an
hour and were grateful. I went and got my recorder and played with some guitars on the
steps. When the sun came up people folded their blankets, picked up leaflets, and swept up
all around the Plaza and the steps; it's a thing with us.
It's eight in the morning and it's a beautiful
day; it's a beautiful Friday. And the sun starts coming up. And the sun keeps coming up.
And the sun keeps up there all day, and we melt like wax. There's just nothing to protect
you, you sit there, and you stink; you sweat; you feel faint; and you just sit there,
packed around the car, and there's nothing else you can do. By now there were maybe 400 of
us, and hardly any more all day who sat down. But by God, we had that car. It was all we
had, and we were going to keep it until we were forced to give it up.
As soon as day begins the dialogue on top of the
car resumes. Everybody gets up and talks about our three demands. And people give history;
and people give facts. At noontime, when the crowd of onlookers swells to about three
thousand, we ask them, come sit down with us. A few do. Meanwhile all this time Jack, the
guy, is still in the cop car, they give him a beer can to piss in.
I finally leave for the first time I'd been away
from this thing since Tuesday. So I come to class, and I say to my teacher, "Look, I
was supposed to see you yesterday about a problem set I missed; I've been penned up in
Sproul Hall all yesterday, I was there all night, I've been there all day today in the
sun; can I have a stay of execution until Monday?" And he stands there with the NO
ON 14 button on his lapel, which he very well might have picked up at one of our
tables, and he says "No." Well, I was too tired to argue with him; I was too
tired to say, "Why don't you come out in the sun too'" Because I knew he
But there were some good people in the sun.
We were pretty tired and pretty grubby, but the cream of the University was there, a good
part of it. Teaching assistants, people with fellowships, scholarships, the Department's
prize undergraduates. I don't know if it's ever been done, but if you were to take the
grade point average -- an absolutely silly criterion -- of people who stood on these
bloody lines, you'd find it to be awfully high. Maybe there are some people who flunk out
of school because they get too involved or are in these things for hung-up reasons. But a
hell of a lot of the best students of the University were there.
So we sat in the sun, and the dialogue continues,
and there's so much information: historical resumes, California State Supreme Court
decisions, and such. And somebody who'd been active in the old days, a law student,
Michael Tigar, got up on top of the car. Those of us who had been active with him were
very glad to see him. And he tells us about this book that Clark Kerr wrote in the late
fifties, called The Managerial Revolution, and he gives us a summary of Kerr's
thesis: There are the managed and the managers. The University is part of the managerial
society. It's this big ship; and the ship has got a captain; and the captain is the
President; and what he says goes. And Tigar says, "We thought the only place this
kind of thinking was left in the world after the 1920's was in Mussolini's Italy."
But he goes on talking about this book, as if it really meant something to talk about a
book, as if these ideas and a rational counter-argument to them had some real use, which
is very hard to believe after you've been around a University for eight years and gotten
concerned about things, and had the spirit beaten down in you. At the end, Tigar says,
"I don't want to be coarse, but there's one thing that's got to be said. People have
been talking like this is just a little thing. But I want to say, even if they cut 'em off
one at a time, it's still castration." And that's the truth, and it was good to hear
someone say it in so many words.
I was ready to drop, everyone was. I went to lie
down on a lawn for a while, but I asked a friend to wake me because the word was that
something was going to happen that night. The next day was Parents' Day at the University.
And, wow, publicity for the University was bad enough without all the parents coming along
and seeing a crowd of 400 beatniks sitting around a cop car and this guy still in it.
But I couldn't get to sleep, because I was too
keyed up. Because the only way you can keep going after you've been going like this for a
couple of days, is on nervous energy. And the moment you let loose of it you're dead, and
so it takes hours to unwind.
Forty minutes later, a friend comes over and says,
come quick, something's going to happen, and I go to the car. There are very few of us,
and slowly other people start collecting around us, but they're standing. We're the only
ones who are sitting. And we scrunch up close to the car, because the word is that they're
going to come and try to take Jack away. Meanwhile all day there've been these
negotiations maybe going on; we've heard nothing, we figured they'd break down. We sit
there for two hours. People are passing out sandwiches; both days we collected money and
outside people made sandwiches and brought them in, and offered other help. And people
bring us reports of sympathy demonstrations in other colleges. All this is very nice when
you feel very much alone.
&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP; Comes 6:30, 7:00, there's this
incredible scene. There are 500 of us at most seated around the car, and maybe 3,000
spectators. Some of them are with us but afraid to get arrested, maybe another 300, we
can't tell. But the great majority are the kids who were heckling us the previous night,
the Greeks and others. They fill the steps of Sproul; they're clustered in the Student
Union; they're on the roof of the cafeteria; they're perched in trees. I have never seen
so many at one time. And they want blood.
Meanwhile, in back of Sproul Hall, there are 500
policemen, with boots, with nightsticks in hand, and with steel helmets. And the hecklers
are there, screaming for blood. "We want blood," they yell. I'd seen this sort
of thing before, but never in such magnitude, never 500 cops gathered together. And we're
there, and we're singing. There are 400 people willing to go to jail; we're singing
because we're scared to death.
Well, the jail part doesn't so much bother me. I
mean, I've got a teaching assistantship to lose and a career and things like that, but
these are minor points. And they really are. Somebody was going to get killed. This is not
a melodrama. Somebody was going to get killed, if the cops came in. That's why I was
there. I didn't realize at first how many they'd have. Then when I found out, I figured --
somebody's going to get killed.
Because there were all sorts of people sitting there, these
ninety pound girls and pregnant women, no kidding, pregnant women, packed in, unable to
move. And we try to tell them what it's going to be like: "If you're wearing rings or
you're wearing pierced earrings, take them off. Don't leave buttons pinned to your chest.
When they get to you, go limp. If you lock arms they'll club you apart." In between
the fraternity boys are yelling to bring on the cops. If that had started, I do believe we
would have had not only 500 cops on our backs, but 2,000 fraternity boys.
But what can you do when you're in one of
these things but lie there and take it? You tuck your chin to your chest so they can't get
you under it, and you pray very selfishly that you're not going to be the one that gets
hurt. And you hold on to the guy next to you for dear life. But you don't feel anything.
You don't even feel hate. You know you dare not raise a finger to them.
It's sort of symbolic of the whole thing,
these last six years. They take away everything, your papers, your rights, your friends,
and you put up a polite protest, but you've just got to lie there and take it. And you
walk a picket line clad in the same clothes that you went to your fellowship interview in,
and they taunt you and spit on you. And you smile. And you don't get mad at them. Not
because you're such a nice guy. You don't get mad at them because you can't afford to,
because if you let what they're saying reach you, you'll crack in half. You can't do a
damned thing about it. You've just got to sit there and take it, lie on the ground and let
the cops tromp on you with their boots.
So anyway, like the eleventh hour plus, Mario
comes running up to the car, and he's got this agreement, and he says, "I feel like
I've betrayed you; it's the first thing that's been signed; you haven't got a chance to
vote on it." How ridiculous this is, to talk about 3,000 people in this situation
voting! And yet we'd been voting. We got some of the things we wanted. The arrested
student wasn't arrested. The suspended students weren't reinstated, but they were remanded
to the faculty for discussion. [We were deceived in these beliefs.] And there's
some sort of mechanism going to be set up that may produce something about freedom of
speech. We may possibly get a piece of land -- and we probably won't. I don't know what's
going to happen.
But it was very far from what we wanted, and from
what we started with at the beginning of the semester. Which was far from what we started
with six years ago. I don't know about Mario, I feel sorry for him, he's a lovely guy. I
don't know how he took the responsibility that was thrust on him, how he didn't crack
during this whole period, and kept talking sense, from a good heart, and with a good
tongue. I've been around for years, and I would put myself in his hands again. Though we
didn't get what we wanted.
If we had had 3,000 sitting down there, I think
our representatives might not have signed the agreement. Things are worth doing for 3,000
that they aren't for 300. I don't know if this makes sense. I would never sit down alone.
Not because I don't believe in it, but because looking at how America has been running,
one man sitting alone just doesn't come to much. Maybe I'm wrong on this. But we tried
sitting alone, or nearly alone, on this capital punishment thing; it's one of the things
that nearly broke my heart. We sat and we sat and we sat, many times and many places. And
not a goddamn thing came of it.
Maybe I give up too easy; but how long can you
keep going on having your heart broken? Sometimes I think what we need are more martyrs;
sometimes I wonder if it helps us in the end. I feel very pessimistic about all this. But
it was damn good to see those 300 there last night. Because the least thing you can say
about them is that they believed enough to sit there if there were 300. And we've never
seen that before. If we had had 3,000 ....
But we didn't because of the last six years,
because everything that helped us learn from each other was beaten down. You can't
communicate things to people in twenty-four hours; it takes years. There's very little
dialogue that goes on; that's one of the troubles of the country: nobody talks to anybody
else. That's what was so nice about that car. It was our car; we fought for it; and while
we had it we stood up on top and we started a dialogue. endspan -->
The university in America is a very bad scene.
There's no communication. Nobody will say anything. I mean, you can point to incidents
where people do, but when you draw a line under it and add it all up, what do you get? You
get that there's no communication between students and faculty, between faculty and
Administration, between Administration and students -- it's all totally disjointed. And by
and large, no communication between faculty and faculty, or between students and students.
And the Administration only communicates with a tiny section of the "outside
world." We've got no communication, and we're all alone.
And all you can do is hope that next time a few
more will be aware that there are some issues around, and be willing to sit down for what
they believe. If you don't know there are issues around, that's your tough luck; the
"powers that be" try to keep you from learning. But I know enough to make me so
sick at heart, so that for a long time I wasn't interested in learning any more. I
couldn't take it. That's all there is to say. I know why there weren't 3,000 sitting down.
I'll be damned if I know why even 300 were there waiting to get mashed.
I'm not even sure why I was there. I was there
because I couldn't not be there, but that doesn't explain it. We were sitting there, they
were shouting for our blood, and people were being very nice to each other, holding each
other's things, handing each other sandwiches, bucking each other up. And I suddenly
remembered, in the last three years I've walked maybe five or six picket lines, one of
them was not too long ago, in Oakland, around the Tribune's building. There were
maybe seventy kids, not particularly well dressed. The cops were there, giving them a hard
time, and so were the hecklers.
And these goddamned kids were singing; they
were singing, "There is love in that land." Did they believe it? I don't know.
Then they sang, "There's free speech in that land." We sang that last night.
God. These are maybe the only people around who believe anything. But can they
really believe there is love in that land? After reading the Tribune's editorials?
There's so much hate around. There was so much
hate yesterday, and so much last night. We were sitting there surrounded by hate, and
singing about "There is love in that land." And after you've been at it two or
three days, after you haven't slept, after you've sat there in the goddamned sun, with
people yelling for your blood, knowing that you've been getting the boot steadily for the
past six years -- you get delirious. You honest to God get delirious. And you can almost
believe what you're singing. You can almost con yourself into believing that these things
mean something. That there is love in that land. That there is free speech, and all those
other crazy abstractions, in that land.
3 October 1964
Reprinted fromThe Wedding Within the War, Doubleday, N.Y., 1971.