By BFA Member Leigh Raiford, Professor of African American Studies
Fifty years ago today, Jack Weinberg, a student activist, set up a table outside of Sproul Hall in direct defiance of the campus ban on political speech. What followed is of course well-known: a campus police car drove into the middle of the plaza to arrest Weinberg, students surrounded the vehicle and occupied Sproul Plaza for the next 33 hours, Marios Savio climbed atop the car and gave a powerful speech… And the Free Speech Movement was born.
What perhaps is not so well-known about this moment is that Jack Weinberg was the head of UC Berkeley’s CORE chapter. CORE—the Congress of Racial Equality—was a frontline civil rights organization, that along with SNCC—the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—had organized the massive black voter registration and education effort in Mississippi that year, known as Freedom Summer.
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