Widely hailed as a seminal moment in the founding of UC Berkeley’s international reputation for unrelenting, unapologetic student activism, the Free Speech Movement this year turns 50. Has its lessons become old and gray, fading into irrelevance? Or does the movement’s legacy remain fresh and vibrant, teaching incoming students the triumph and opportunity seized by their forebearers?
In the true spirit of the fall of 1964, the FSM’s enduring impact is now property of the people. Campus administration totes the movement as emblematic of a culture of civic-mindedness and inclusion — and a great reason to come to UC Berkeley. Feminist groups may laud its accomplishments but note the irony in its treatment of women in leadership roles. And many students choose not to engage with it at all. Perhaps that is the true beauty of the FSM half a century later. The only right the movement won was to flier on Sproul Plaza, but its legacy continues to offer In the true spirit of the fall of 1964, the FSM’s enduring impact is now so much more.