Sunday, August 28, 2011

Berkeley in the Sixties

Sorry for the delay in getting this up folks.

Group 1: By Tuesday morning, post a 3-400 word response on Berkeley in the Sixties, directed by Mark Kitchell.

Group 2: By Thursday at noon, post a 200 wordish response to something or things discussed by Group 1.

Here's a piece written in the last 1970s on the Diggers, who operated the free kitchens in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury (and did much of the cooking for Woodstock's 400,000 attendees). I love the inventive playfullness, standard for the Diggers, of the title: Deep Tried Frees:

Here's some info on the People's Park today, which is still around. First is it's website:

Next is a 1999 article from the San Francisco Chronicle (San Fran's largest newspaper):


  1. Mark Kitchell's 'Berkeley in the Sixties" gives us an insight into the successes and failures of the political and social movements of the 1960s. The black and white screen shots which open the film, chronicle the HUAC or House Un-American Activities Committee's hearings at the University of California Berkeley. The hearings were an anacronic clinging to McCarthy era anti-communist propaganda and fear. Rather than squelch anti-establishment political thought, the committee's repression drove the students and young people of the era to explore their political ideologies futher. The black and white screen shots, as opposed to later shots, some of which are in color, document how early in the Sixties activism began to take hold amongst a youth who are treated like a commodity with no opinion of value. Most of the social and political turmoil of the decade are associated with it's latter half, making it easy to assume 1961-1965 were as docile and boring as the 1950s. Great job on the part of Kitchell to capture the length of the struggle. The filmmaker also did a great job documenting successes and failures, which provide invaluable knowledge to future activists. We recieved a perspective most closely related to the activists who took part, however, we recieved footage and information presenting the position and tactics of the U.C. Berkeley administration, the state government in California, and the federal government. All of which were party to much of the conflicts and issues present at Berkeley in the 1960s. All of which I feel were represented in sufficient detail. We learned about how the school system dismissed the students' capabilities, how the California state government lacked respect for the students, the young, and the counterculture as a whole, and how the national government, desperate to preserve national unity could be used as a tool of violent tyranny. This could be summed up in then Governor Reagan's meeting with the staff at Berkeley, in which he clearly feels the staff failed to hand down totalitarian style orders to the young adults, a tactic he felt would have averted the issues they were facing. His disgust is almost comedic as he exits the room, particularly since it was the general lack of validity and seriousness given to the movement by the authorities which fueled the activism. On the other hand, we learned about how the movement crumbled in on itself. The vivid video documentation of rioting in Oakland, and the National Guard assault on peaceful demonstrators on U.C. Berkeley's campus depicts a citizenry not ready to accept the sacrafices of total revolution, which is bloodshed, turmoil, even death for your cause. The great images from the 'Be-in' in Golden Gate Park, showed us some of the greatest music in rock n' roll history. It showed us the spirit of freedom embodied in drug-induced dancing. Yet, it also showed us that ultimately the counterculture were too preoccupied with drugs, sexual freedom, and entertainment to carry out the revolution. It is as if they were utilizing the free time and free expression the revolution would have made multi-generational; all at once, for themselves, then giving up once the pressure from the establishment became too intensive not to disrupt their good time. It is not that everyone lost the conviction, we are given ample evidence to suggest it was not. Then, as it is today, conviction and dedication for changing our society for the better thrives, only amongst a seemingly powerless minority searching for meaning and support. Great film, almost as mcuh instructional video as historical documentary.

  2. Kenta Goto
    Watching the film 'Berkeley in the Sixties", since I have never focused on the U.S. in 1960s before I was pretty mesmerized by the film. Never knew so much was going besides the war, nuclear threads, and space exploration. I was in bizarre feelings after the film, because I knew nothing about the Berkeley in the Sixties until I saw the film.
    Beginning in the late 1950s, the idea of higher education had become something important and many students began to think of college education as a right, rather than a privilege. Those students arriving at Berkeley were extremely different than their parents were at their age, and because of its location, Berkeley became the most notable campus full of student energy and emotion. But it wasn't all fun for the students. Most of them were politically and socially conscious. They were involved with organizations like TASC (Towards an Active Student Community); demonstrated against HUAC- House on Un-American Activities Committee; continued in the fight for civil rights with SNCC, and most importantly, SLATE. SLATE was comprised of a group of students who were running for student government on a platform that pledged to end discrimination at the university. What they were also attempting was to create a free thinking environment and remove themselves from the "multiversity" environment.
    At the time, Berkeley had many prominent professors .
    The Bay Area where the campus was located has always had a tradition of rebellion and nonconformity which, when combined with the beat poets and progressive radio stations of the time, helped to cultivate the cultural radicalism that Berkeley was known for.
    The president of the University, Clark Kerr, attempted to limit the new surge of political activism. They were somewhat liberalized rule that governed campus political speech and activities. It prohibited a lot of organizational activity like fundraising, recruitment, demonstrations, or parties that were to take place on campus. Accordingly, the students began to organize off campus and it kept the students aware of what was going on in the world as a whole. For this reason, events taking place at Berkeley rippled nationwide and Berkeley then became a barometer of students across America and their political sentiments.

  3. From Andrew H:

    while watching the movie this week, "Berkley in the 60s", I was reminded of reading about the enlightenment movement which started in France. this movement brought on massive cultural and social change in the way people thought about the way they were living their lives. the reasons they wanted the change might have been different but what they were going against was basically the same. in the instance of the enlightenment, they were trying to get out from under the churches shadow and begin to change the ways they looked at life around them and thinking they needed to do things for themselves instead of blindly following the church and how they said you needed to live you life. in the instance of the 60s, it was all about not blindly following the government and their rather oppressive way of making people do what they wanted them to do and only say and hear what they wanted them to as well. this movie did a great job of showing us how upset the youth as well as minority groups and women were feeling at the time, and how they got so frustrated with the world around them that they decided to act out. in relation to the movie Woodstock, it became obvious to me why Woodstock was as large as it was. Berkley represented just one area where these things were going on, and we saw through this movie how the police, sanctioned by the government, were permitted to brutalize these protestors, so Woodstock was a safe haven for people of a similar mind set to socialize without the fear of getting their heads smashed in by police. there was a scene where Ronald Reagan is talking to a group about what was going on and showing his disbelief in how a bunch of "kids" could cause so much trouble. I think this also shows what a lot of adults and members of government were thinking at the time, that they were scared of what was happening and could not believe that it was even possible for the youth to rise up like this. this decade in history was a very important one because it changed the way our nation was heading. i feel that if these instances of social unrest had not have happened, we might have gone down a path of the government trying to control more aspects of our life than they do now.

  4. This is a Test .

    My Post is coming up .

  5. Amanda DeRossett (Group 2):

    While watching the documentary film on "Berkeley in the Sixties", I realized how much things have really changed drastically since then. I rarely ever see any protests anymore, and when I do, they don't compare to the protests I saw in the film. Since then, there have been more and more American's speaking their mind about their beliefs on politics, back then, as it showed on the film, individuals who spoke their minds were dragged off stage or arrested. At the beginning of the film, when the students started their protest rallies, there wasn't much the police could do to stop them because there was so many of them and all they were doing was speaking to the crowds. The students wouldn't move when police asked them, and they sat on cars, there wasn't any violence in the beginning. The activists wanted to make a change in the United States. They wanted peace, they wanted rights for blacks, etc. The individuals against the protesting called it the "Civil Rights Panty Raid", they thought the people participating in the protests were a joke. At the time Reagan was furious about the protesters, calling them irresponsible, violent and distracting. Around that time the protesters were starting to be called hippies. Towards the end when the film was showing protesters trying to convince young men entering the draft not to go, it gets violent. People died during protests, they were beaten, and there was a lot of cops and citizens fighting against each other. Another part of the film that stood out was the individuals creating People's Park in 1969. Soon after the park was built, Reagan ordered that it be shut down and no one was allowed in. This also created a lot of chaos with the police and citizens. In the end of the film, it shows helicopters dropping nausea gas over the protestors. After that, the protest rallies didn't happen often or at all. I really enjoyed this film, because I learned a lot more than I already knew. I liked how the whole film was a visual of what was really going on in the 1960's from beginning till end. The interviews from the students, black panthers and protesters was very interesting as well because it gave the people who watch the documentary a better insight of what really happened with the people who were actually there.

  6. From Geri B.

    In response to Kenta Goto:

    I was also mesmerized by the film because I hadn't a clue about Berkeley during the 1960's. In addition to what he said, the students at the time had came out of the spirit of conformity. I agree that the students that arrived at Berkeley differed from their parents in many ways. I believe that they were ready for a change and didn't let anything stand in their way of that. A prime example of that would be their refusal of returning to McCarthyism.
    The police back then also differed from the force that we have today. Especially during the instance of the political baptism where they pulled people down the stairs and continuously shot them with their very powerful water hose. Although, the students of Berkeley didn't let the police get in their way toward the fight for political activism. Also, as Kenta mentioned, Clark Kerr tried to stand in their way as well.
    Another huge contributor against the students, that Kenta didn't mention, is Ronald Reagan. Ultimately, Reagan wanted to put an end to the whole situation of the students going for what they believed to be right, and very well was right. My least favorite part of the documentary is when the National Guard got involved and began to gas the students with helicopters. In my opinion, he took it way too far at that point.
    In the end, I am proud that the students stood up for what they believed in and I don't think our society would be where we are today without them.

  7. From Jessica W.:

    A multitude of information was presented in the documentary, Berkley in the 60’s; but I found that the reoccurring and fascinating topic of change to have been the overall theme. During this time, it was almost as if America was fighting a war on revolution. One particular quote in the film, that was spoken with a passion that you don’t find in everyday conversation, was “the world was undergoing change at a rate that I could simply not comprehend.“ Scenes from revolutions in Japan, Mexico, The Czech Republic, and here in the U.S. made the movement more realistic from a global standpoint; but I feel as if the director did a fabulous job of truly depicting the world of revolution from different viewpoints of Americans overall.
    This theme is ever prevalent at the Berkley campus in California among students who protested the political morals on free speech. I found it almost appalling that the American government felt that it was necessary to create a film, “Operation Abolition” in response to these students peaceful protests, and I feel that it also backs up my initial thought in regards to the end of the film. This being that, generally speaking, people don’t like change, and that when the American government feels threatened, even by the youth of its nation, it will go to great lengths to fight it; thus my phrasing, the war on revolution.
    It was not only the activists of Berkley that ran into similar issues with the government during this time either. The film also went into grave details about the civil rights movement, the birth of a counterculture who called themselves “hippies,” the women’s rights movement, the formation of the Black Panther society and all that it stood for, the anti-war movement, and last but not least the free speech movement. I did enjoy the film, but I feel like for someone who it not only interests, but who loves to write as well, that it presented too much information to pick and choose what to write on. Interesting to watch, yes; but in all honesty I struggled with keeping this blog under 400 words. Ideas? The end 

  8. From Julien B.:

    The documentary of Berkeley in the 60’s reminds me how as human beings, we have advance in the march for democracy to increase the respect of human life, dignity. The western world (USA and Europe) at that time was going through tremendous uprising against a society that was trying too hard to control how people should think and how they should live their lives. People become more aware and were starting to be more aware about how the system was functioning. People vote to elect official but unfortunately, in my opinion, elected officials “often” fail to deliver the people voice for change and fair justice for all. It sent a clear message to the government that the people voice matter and that government are elected to serve the people and their communities. While some people believe that the people should serve their government which is ok WHEN the cause is right, I believe that government is elected to represent and accomplish decisions that are beneficial for people’s everyday life, sense of working together in our community. African American had the perfect opportunity to rise up right during and after the Berkeley student movement started. It was the rise for equality, fraternity, and liberty. It is unfortunate that some people were taking advantage of that positive movement to just be there to create trouble and didn’t even care or understand what the movement was all about. they were trouble makers that were exploiting the situation to create anarchy and Cheops and it actually hurt the more smart and structured protest organize by student since the government put everybody in the same basket without trying to differentiate the student protest for a better democracy from the thugs .
    That also has influence “SOME” people opinion and conclusion about this movement, which has lead them to say: “bunch of crazy liberals that needs discipline” rather than differentiating certain people from other in that particular movement for better democracy. These people saying that in my opinion fall “ALSO” into a style of radicalism. That lady that was ready to die when the train was coming shows are deep the concern was during these days. Luckily, a policeman in plain clothes saved her and she went back to her normal routine shortly after that. this same movement in FRANCE, has helped the French make the GENERAL DE GAULE step down since he was running the country like a military institution which was good right after world war 2 to restore order and get people back to work and normal life but after so long it didn’t fit with the evolution of democracy . the right Balance is what Berkeley riots was seeking and it did send a strong message to not just the politicians here, but to government all over the world . Yes, Free speech and freedom of expression.

  9. From Danielle B:

    I really like the way Andrew addresses the bigger picture that "berkley in the sixties" exemplifies and the way it correlated with Woodstock. In a sense, the new emerging generation was somewhat similar to those in the protest that Andrew mentions because they are trying to escape an old way of thinking. The students at Berkley, along with many other individuals throughout the nation, tried to create a counter culture and very much achieved that. They were rivaling the previous societal thoughts that encouraged discrimination, close-mindedness, and all over a more conservative, traditional way of thought. They proposed a very open-minded, extremely free form of environment were everyone was accepted and that focused on everyone coming together as a community. Woodstock tied in perfectly with this idea because it was a place free of those who judged one another and an environment that promoted self expression and caring for one another. Both "Berkley in the Sixties" and "woodstock" adressed that people were lost and looking "for meaning in life", which seems to be an important them of this era" self-exploration. One of the concepts I really liked that was said by one of the main speakers at protests was that the people would hold "the same reponsibility with their freedome as winning their freedom". This shows that the young generation wasn't entirely carefree like the government at the time attempted to portray them as. Reagan reffered to the outbreak of protests as a "lunatic fringe". The new generation, for the most part, wasn't proposing complete anarchy, they just thought that there should be more emphasis placed on individual responsibility rather than a controling government that limited what was acceptable. While some thoguht this was impossible, Woodstock proved that it was. Also, I agree with the fact that the struggle of this new generation was a long, tiring effort.

  10. Austin M:

    In response to Andrew I agree with his comparison of the 1960’s to the Enlightenment period in Europe. In both cases a certain set of individuals grew apart from a controlling faction (the church, the government) and needed to break away from this control and start anew. This starting anew idea is also reflected in Woodstock, where you can link the building of Woodstock as starting a brand new “city” just for the hippie generation to live away from the rule of the government, if only for a few days. Woodstock is also connected to Berkeley in that what was going on in Berkeley was also going on all over the country, protesting about rights and freedoms were springing up everywhere, this is why so many people came to Woodstock, to be able to speak with others like their selves about their ideas without Big Brother looking over their shoulders. Something I was impressed by was the protestor’s complete faith in what they were doing, even in the face of being drug down stairs and sprayed with water hoses they continued to preach their message. With such steadfast resolve it is no wonder that their revolutionary ways began to catch on.

  11. From Matthew P (late):

    (Group 2) In response to Andrew H.
    I really like the way that Andrew was able to compare what was happening in Mark Kitchell’s “Berkley in the Sixties” to the French Enlightenment movement. The parallels between the mass cultural and social movements in under two extremely different times and circumstances got me thinking even further as I read his response. Of course, there are differences in what was actually being fought for, but the idea of going against the so-called “values” and “morals” of the established social and political norms is similar. What were captured so brilliantly on film were the most modern examples of widespread protest and assembly of people speaking out against government in the United States. The scene where the boy was being arrested and the huge group of students surrounded the car and spoke their minds one-by-one at the microphone comes to mind as a more significant scence from the film. We often times think about defining moments in U.S. history as Revolutionary War, and the Civil War, and perhaps its because what happened in the Sixties in America is still a recent enough memory that we do not view this decade in the same respect. But, this film and the direction provides a great historical source for what will likely be viewed as being an even more significant decade in American history in the centuries to follow.