The Importance Of The Free Speech Movement

The Free Speech Movement protested the ban of on campus political activities and speeches. Thousands of students became involved in this protest and together they displayed how much power there was in student activism. In the fall of 1964, the Regents of the university enforced a new ban that blocked students from holding political activities at Sproul Plaza on Bancroft and Telegraph. This was unsettling to them because the Bancroft Strip was a key location that students occupied when trying to reach out, raise funds and speak up for what they believed in. Previous policies suggested that student life outside of the university wouldn't be tampered or interfered with, so this was an outrage to the students of UC Berkeley. When the regents took time to revise and tweak the ban, students were still unhappy with the decision, so a sit in at Sproul Hall was organized and it lasted for nearly 10 hours.
The FSM has also been described as the first largely organized protest that was birthed out of white student dissent. The FSM was proof that when students unite for a cause they can instigate dramatic change in campus life. The movement’s greatest inspiration and influence was the Civil Rights movement. In the summer of 1964, some Berkeley students, including Mario Savio, participated in civil rights activities in the south. The experience had a profound impact on them and gave them the courage to attack the bay area’s racial discrimination issues and campus politics. By the time the protests ended, there had been 773 arrests.
In Mississippi, a man named Robert Moses was responsible for helping turn the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee into an organization of activists that dedicated their time to building community based polit...

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...udent voices. There is continued setting up of tables with different clubs and organizations putting their messages out to others. In 1997, a dedication ceremony was held on the Sproul Hall steps where they were renamed, The Mario Savio Steps. The steps became and still remain a popular rallying place since that time.
The conscious fire that was sparked in Berkeley students in 1964 kept burning and later students felt inspired to speak up for the demand and need of Ethnic Studies at the university. After protests and demonstration, an Ethnic Studies Department and the De-Cal Program, a student-run democratic education program, were created. In 2000, 1964 graduate Stephen Silberstein, donated $3.5 million to the university. Silberstein and other UC Berkeley alumni involved in the Free Speech Movement came back to observe the opening of The Free Speech Movement Café.

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