Berkeley in the Sixties
Directed by Mark Kitchell (2002)
Berkeley in the sixties is a documentary about the history of 1960s Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement (FSM). Prior to watching the film, I had no idea that Youth for Goldwater helped start the FSM, joining forces with left leaning groups in 12-18 hour strategy meetings aimed at a university ban on political information tables. By necessity, these meetings made decisions by consensus. Decisions based on majority vote always engendered the risk the losing minority would walk away.
In 1963, the FSM would collaborate with black civil rights leaders in a massive civil disobedience that forced San Francisco hotels to end their discriminatory hiring practices.
Following this initial victory, the FSM oriented their protests against the Vietnam War, inspiring similar actions by tens of thousands of students at campuses across the US. In 1967, they successfully shut down the Oakland army induction center for five days.
The documentary also explores the FSM collaboration with the Oakland Black Panther Party in the Free Huey movement, their tenuous linkages with the CIA-fabricated (see How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left Haight Ashbury counterculture movement and their involvement in the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
There is some great footage of Berkeley President Clark Kerr and Governor Ronald Reagan behaving like assholes.
*Newton was framed for the manslaughter of Oakland police officer John Frey during a Panther gun battle with the police. He was ultimately released after three unsuccessful attempts to convict him.