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Free Speech Movement 20th Anniversary Project

Noon Rally -- Sproul Plaza. Tuesday, October 2, 1984 (rough transcript)

Note: Audio files are available for this Rally at the Media Resources Center. Download the Streamworks plug-in to listen to these files  from the link at MRC Site. If anyone listening can fill in the blanks in the transcript below, we'll appreciate it.

Nancy Skinner: Twenty years ago some students, right here, wanted the simple right to have the tables to express their political views, to extend the constitutional right of free speech to the educational arena, of this institution, The University of California.

     The struggle that ensued and the victory that they achieved is what we are celebrating today. (Applause.) What else are we celebrating? Those of us at the Graduate Assembly and the other student groups and Free Speech Movement veterans that initiated this commemoration did so because we believe the the movement is not dead, and that those of us who are a part of it are facing some very serious challenges in this country.

     We felt that it was a time to ask our Movement brothers and sisters to come back. Those student leaders who challenged this University during the Free Speech Movement, and challenged this country during the anti-war -- during the Vietnam War. We wanted to bring them back and sit down and talk, share a few lessons, insights and wisdom. Ask them: what gave you the courage to act as you did? What lessons did you learn? What mistakes did you make? What can you tell us, those who must carry out this responsibility forward with you, and face the challenge of an increasing cold war mentality; increasing military intervention in Central America; an increasing threat of nuclear war. What can you -- leaders of the past -- tell us that will help us carry this movement forward? We -- those of us organizing these events -- also want to strip away the media myths that the Eighties is a generation of conservatism and disinterest. (Applause.)

     We -- those of us assembled today -- are a complex and diverse group. We have many different reasons for being here; the media can't write us off or brand us. We can still use this form of large assembly as we demonstrate that was so prominent in the 1960's. But we also use many different forms: The ballot box. We passed the nuclear weapons freeze and we continue to elect Ron Dellums. Direct action: as at the Livermore Lab. (Applause.) Organizing: we are organizing, as in the case at the Graduate Student Union, the Association of Graduate Student Employees. (Applause.) And we use long-range action, as in the minority students on this campus, initiation of recruitment centers and tutoring programs to increase minority enrollment. (Applause.)

     Now is the time to allow our teachers to speak out and tell their story. I hope that after this rally you will come to the rest of the events of this week, and that they serve to awaken the spark of the movement that is in all of us.

     Song and singing was incredibly important to all of the movements of the 1960's, and to all the political movements prior and current. I'm proud to open this program with the Freedom Song Network. (Applause.)

     [Group singing. (Applause.)]

Nancy Skinner: Thank you, Freedom Song Network. Gus Newport, our Mayor of Berkeley, would not be the Mayor of Berkeley if it were not for the civil rights movement, the Free Speech Movement, the other political activities of the 1960's, on this campus and in Berkeley that led to Berkeley's reputation as the progressive capitol of the world. (Applause.) Mayor Newport is a man of strong principles and a champion of peace and social justice for it's respected not only in Berkeley but around the world. I'm honored to introduce our Mayor: Gus Newport. (Applause.)

Gus Newport: I'm extremely pleased to be here today to honor with you the 20th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement. I'm extremely pleased to see the turnout here today because, as many of you know, the media has been saying that students today are apathetic. But I know that's not the case; we know that's not the case. We recognize that we are confronted at this moment with a situation ______________ similar to that of 20 years ago today. And we all know, better than any state, any campus in the country, that Ronald Reagan is a person that we have to bust at all costs. (Applause - long and loud.) It's my feeling that _______________ here today to say, yes, I have agreed that on this day, October second, 1984, once again we'll put forth a movement that will turn this country around.

     You must recognize that the Free Speech Movement brought moral integrity to this campus. It gave this particular campus the breadth that was needed to send students forward to deal with the social ills that existed in America. And as we said, for today we must recognize that it is our duty not only to clean up this campus once again, this city, this state and this country, so that we may save the rest of the world, but the Free Speech Movement is necessary. We also need a purity in reporting movement. The media continues to say that students are apathetic; that they're moving to the right; that 32 to 35 percent of them are going to vote for Ronald Reagan. I know better than that; let me hear! (Loud applause.)I know better than that! (Applause continues.) I was reminded by Jesse Jackson yesterday, that the polls put forth by the media said that he would get only 8 percent of the vote in New York State, and only 9 percent in California. Well, he got 26 percent in New York State, and over 20 percent in California. (Applause) So that Reagan _____________ to move forward. The media does not have the methodology for putting forth the truth to the American public. It is time for us to stand up and take our rights back and determine for ourselves what is going to be the destiny of this country! (Applause.)

     As Nancy said earlier, if it had not been for the Free Speech Movement, certainly someone like myself would not be mayor today. Thank goodness for you all. (Laughter, applause.) Thank goodness for Mario; thank goodness for all the people who were here 20 years ago. I just want you to understand that even though 20 years ago the Free Speech Movement would pass, the City of Berkeley is not perforce a progressive majority. We have a change come November the 6th. Nancy Skinner, the woman who is this is running for City Council, and I need that support. Ann Chandler is also running for City Council and Maudelle Shirek is also running for City Council and I need her support. John Jelenik is running for City Council and I need his support. If you give me that, we'll give you the model city the likes of which you never thought could exist, and therefore we won't have to be concerned, as to how we couch such words as "socialism", "takeover", "of the people", because we will have the tools to do it.Thank you. God bless! (Applause.)

Nancy Skinner: Thank you, Gus. Gus -- our Mayor -- would also not be mayor if it weren't for the student vote. The students have not voted. This week is the last week to register to vote. Students can use the power of the ballot box to effect many changes. We need to use that right and that responsibility, and if you're not registered yet, do it this week. There are tables all around the Plaza, they'll be registering voters; the deadline is this week.

     If we had a police car today our next guest would need no introduction. (Laughter and applause.) He could ____________ out of that car. A man whose arrest catalyzed the events that took place here 20 years ago today. Jack Weinberg! (Long and loud applause.)

Jack Weinberg: Time's short; time's short; no time for _______________. I want to thank the Graduate Assembly for putting on this wonderful event and inviting me here. Since I've been around, people have been asking me: "did the movement of the '60's accomplish anything?" And I guess I have to deal with that as a question.

     When I came to Berkeley in 1961, the policies that dominated this country were the things that we now identify with Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. It was the movement of the Sixties that changed all those things. In those days to oppose those kinds of ideas really was hard; you had to really stand up; it was a very conformist time. Now, Ronald Reagan's [been] in office for four years; he's not yet been able to reverse those gains, and I want to say that I hope he doesn't get elected; even if he does get elected, it would still take an enormous struggle and social conflict to reverse what was accomplished in the Sixties. I think nobody should say that nothing has happened, and nothing can happen. (Applause.)

     Edwin Meese, who [was the] Alameda County District Attorney to prosecute the Free Speech Movement, has been nominated for Attorney General. Ronald Reagan is in the White House and he got his political career started by running against Berkeley students. A reporter called me up and pointed those things out to me, and said, "look at all that! Your friends are dispersed to the wind. Who won?" And my answer was, "I think it's still too early to say." (Laughter and applause.)

     When I came to Berkeley, I came here because I'd had to get out of my home town; the little world -- its narrow-mindedness was driving me crazy. I wasn't a political person; I wasn't an activist; I wasn't even a trouble-maker yet! (Laughter.) But I did come here because I thought this was a place where I could find truth and I could find knowledge. One way I was a radical: I had no respect for constituted authority. I think that's why I chose math to study, because in math, if you say something's true, you gotta be able to prove it. A twelve- year-old who can see a mistake in your logic has the right to point it out. And that's, I think, in different forms, the kind of thinking that made something like the student movement possible. People were going by their own inner lights.

     In later years the movement became a fad; it became, "come to campus and see what's happening." I think that might have been its high point, but I think what starts new things is people who have some sense of truth, of right and wrong, of necessity -- and are willing to act on it in the hopes it'll catch on, and you can't control events, but things do catch on. I was a teaching assistant in mathematics when the Civil Rights movement changed my life. There was a movement going on the rural south; I read about it, I heard about it; people were dying for the right to vote, to sit at a Woolworth's lunch counter, and some friends of mine -- I didn't think I could do anything about it, and some friends invited me to a meeting, and I went and then I started running the mimeograph machine and I started handing out leaflets, and after awhile, I gave up my studies that had taken over my life. And at the time, at the time -- I got some very good adult advice. They were telling me, "Listen, finish your studies -- launch your career. If you want to change the world, this is the way you can change it -- by being an intellectual person."

     But I knew that I wasn't yet [what] I was going to be, and what I was doing right then in my life would determine who I was; if I could change the world, what kind of changes I wanted to make. So I felt compelled to go by what was moving me and not deferring to some future time. My efforts -- the summer of 1964 was the high water point of the Civil Rights movement, in Mississippi, but also here. We were sitting in, negotiating every week. And we believed that when the students came back in the fall -- boy! That movement was going to take off, like nobody had ever seen before. But the University had a different plan; they were under pressure, they were told that we were using the campus as a launching pad for attacks on the community, and they tried to stop us. That's where the Free Speech Movement came from.

     But once the Free Speech Movement started, it very quickly -- it started, I think, as a very direct extension of part of the civil rights movement -- it turned into something completely different, because hundreds of students were participating in it, they saw the administration suddenly against what they thought right,against the civil rights movement. They were shocked, they were angry. But the movement stopped being the students in support of some others elsewhere in society. It started developing its own voice, its own constituency, its own symbols, and it became a thing unto itself, and out of that experience what became the radicalism of the 1960's student movement was born.

     The country's changed a lot since then. I don't think turning the clock back would be easy, even if Ronald Reagan was elected with a big majority and tried to do it; but I hope that doesn't happen.

     Let me give two examples. One: a central part of his program is to make abortion in America a criminal act. I say, that if they try to do that, and try to enforce that law, it will trigger a wave of resistance and repression that will make the 1960's look tame. (Loud applause.)Let me give a second example. In the 1950's, it was considered treason for an American to question or challenge this country's foreign policy, this country's strategic policy today. The public today has become an accepted element in policy formation. Notice! In this election campaign, Reagan has been forced to modulate his stance on Central America, and his stance on nuclear policy, and that's a direct result of public pressure and debate.

     I tell you that if they want to return to the kind of aggressive view of foreign policy that they had in the '50's, and they want to reassert American, imperialist, world-domination by a sort of military means, they're going to have to shut down the public debate, and to do that would require a new McCarthyism and a new struggle, and again -- just the election won't change it -- it's the movement of the people that has the effect, and don't forget it. (Loud applause.)

     I want to tell a parable. There was this ancient king and he offered a portion of silver and gold to anyone who could sum up in four words the universal political wisdom of the ages. And a wise man got the reward with these four words: "this too shall pass." (Applause.) This too shall pass; no matter how lofty the victory, or how bitter the defeat, there is one conclusion that always remains: this too shall pass. But -- but -- in our lifetime, for the first time in human history, that ancient parable, that ancient wisdom is no longer true. If there occurs a significant nuclear exchange, the human species will be destroyed. It will be an event which will not pass.

     Throughout all of our history there has been war, there has been death, there has been horror, but life goes on. Our species is now advanced to the place where this no longer needs to be true. We can destroy not only our own generation, not only future generations, we can destroy Shakespeare; we can destroy Plato; we can destroy Bach; we can destroy Mohammed; we can destroy the Rolling Stones, and (laughter) every other creation of human culture.

     Now at heart, I'm an optimist. I believe deeply that human action can change the course of human events. I believe that when a necessity becomes strong enough, it requires human action, but I also believe that unless there are fundamental changes, it's hard to imagine our species lasting another 50 years. I think that the course we're on is a course that we can survive. In any given year -- in any given crisis -- I believe the odds of a nuclear catastrophe are slight. I don't see any particular event that's going to trigger it. But I used to study mathematics, and I can't escape the logical proposition that however slight those odds -- as long as you're willing to gamble, and you gamble often enough, whatever the odds, you spin the wheel enough times -- your number will hit! That's not a "maybe," that's not a hope it doesn't happen; you spin the wheel enough times, whatever the odds, your number will hit. (Applause.)

     Humans are going to have to learn there exists no human value, no human objective that justifies risking the survival of our species. (Applause, long and loud.) Unless we learn that, as a group, we'll not only destroy ourselves, we'll probably destroy most other warm-blooded animals. Now it might take ten years; it might take a hundred years; I can't make a prediction on this. But that difference, in time frame, over the course of life of species is insignificant. It's insignificant (Voice -- "time's up" and laughter.)

     I'm going to take one more minute if I can finish this idea. (Applause.) Don 't ... (talking from audience) ... so long as we have the capacity to destroy our species, so long as risking the destruction of our species remains a legitimate form of human behavior, it's only a matter of time. With the survival of the species at stake, I want to put out a couple of ideas for your consideration. What's called for, I say, is a new nationalism. Our nation is a human species; our endangered culture is human culture; our homeland is the planet Earth (applause; and our slogan is that there is no human value that justifies risking the survival of our species. Thank you. (Loud, long applause.)

Nancy Skinner: Thank you, Jack Weinberg. Our next speaker, Jackie Goldberg, is a high school teacher and an elected member of the Los Angeles School Board. She was on the Executive Committee and the Steering Committee of the Free Speech Movement. Welcome Jackie Goldberg! (Applause.)

Jackie Goldberg: I want to take you back for a minute, twenty years ago today. I want you to pretend it's a cool, crisp, October morning in 1964, tomorrow is a football game at which time Craig Morton will drop the ball again at least three more times! (Laughter.) Which is a Berkeley tradition!

     We have been banned from Bancroft and Telegraph and so now it becomes just as illegal to have our tables right here as it does there, so we're putting them right here! (Applause.) It's twelve noon, and what do the police do? [But (??)] in front of a crowd, not quite this big, but everybody coming out of classes; they dragged Jack Weinberg from the CORE table, "Congress of Racial Equality," across the plaza to about where the middle group [here] is sitting, and arrest him in front of hundreds and hundreds of students! If I had made it up, I couldn't have asked for anything more! (Loud applause.) Because we in the United States live in a terrible dilemma -- the evil that this system is capable of doing is kept carefully hidden, as long as they can possibly hide it from us! (Loud applause.) And in that one incredible moment, imagine driving a police car onto the center of this campus! Even in 1964 that was not done. And they brought it right there, and for one quick moment, the only truly spontaneous political action I've been involved in took place. And that is, students who yesterday would not sign a petition to get our tables back at Bancroft and Telegraph, 'cause they could care less -- sat down and entrapped that car for 39 hours! (Loud, long applause.)

     I want to dispel one important misconception. That was not an act of cynical people -- that was an act of people who truly believed in justice! (Loud applause.)

     The single most important method of social control in America is not the police -- yet (laughter) -- it is cynicism! It is telling you it is all a crock, that nothing's any good, and that ya better look out for number one alone! (Applause.)

     Another important misconception was that we were so different from you here today. We weren't any different from you here today, except that you have longer hair, more beards, which I think is funny since they attributed that to us -- we were all clean-shaven except for one or two, and the women, of course, didn't have to worry about it. And I, for example, was pledge-mother of my sorority! (Loud applause and laughter.) But we built a coalition which included the conservatives, the liberals, the center, and the left -- most of whom had not been used to talking to each other -- into the Free Speech Movement, out of a deep commitment to our future in a society that had to be made more just! (Applause.) You aren't any different than we were. You have that same commitment. People will try to talk you out of it, media-you out of it, but you have that same commitment. As a high school teacher, I know you! You are my students a few years later. You will not allow us to return to the McCarthy era. I know you won't do that! (Long applause.)

     And the movement that you mount against that, will really end the beginning that happened twenty years ago. Not because you can have a beginning and a middle and an end to history, but because it'll be the logical outgrowth of the need of people to say there has to be something better and more valuable than the dollar -- that's not what life is all about. (Loud applause.)

     We weren't all radicals. Goldwater was running for president! We weren't all radicals; most people would not sign a petition because they knew to do so jeopardized their jobs. We were not all anything except committed, that in front of our very eyes like on that October morning, they were not going to commit an atrocity in front of all of us, and they expected us to walk by as if a little ripple in a pond had .....ed. And that's what they think of you! That you will walk [on by] if a little ripple occurs when we invade E1 Salvador and Nicaragua! (Applause.) They are betting on you! But so am I -- and I'm going to win! (Applause.)

     I think that really is what happened 20 years ago, and the important thing to understand about the Free Speech Movement is that you don't want free speech just so you can talk to hear yourself talk! (Applause.) The majority never needs freedom of speech, it is the majority! It is the minority point of view that needs freedom of speech. And the second they begin to tel1 you that that person is too far on the fringe to be allowed to talk, too far on the fringe to be allowed to participate, [not qu]ite the right kind -- we don't let them speak -- you in the majority are in trouble! And that is something, I hope, we can out of that struggle. You fight for freedom of speech because you need to be able to talk about racism, to begin to organize to end racism. (Applause.) You talk about freedom of speech because you need to organize to end sexism, which is_________________ in this society! (Applause.) You need freedom of speech to call on the carpet people who tel1 you that if they can kill you more times today than they could yesterday, you are safer now! (Applause.) You need to talk about freedom of speech because you need freedom of speech to say that a person's sexual preference is nobody's' damn business! (Applause.)

     You need freedom of speech because you have to say that if there are problems with jobs, it is not the immigrants who [are] fleeing for their lives that is creating the problem of jobs! (Applause.) And you need freedom of speech to say that once and for all American history has to be taught instead of American mythology!

     I'd like to close with a little song. It was made up in jest but I hope it will always ring my ears. "There are five thousand reds in the Plaza" -- you [know?] it -- sing along!

     "There are five thousand reds in the Plaza.
      There are five thousand reds in the Plaza.
      The microphone's loud and it's drawing a crowd.
      I'm sure that the rules say it's just not allowed!
      This will look bad in the papers, this will look bad in the press.
      Call out the troopers from Oakland. They'll get us out of this mess!"

(Loud, prolonged applause.)

Nancy Skinner: _____________________that the movement was still alive! Was that the movement was dead! Speaking of songs, we have re-issued the record of Christmas carols that the Free Speech Movement arrestees made to raise money for their legal defense. They're [on sale] right over there.

     Jackie Goldberg, as I mentioned, is on the Los Angeles School Board, and in Berkeley we have the opportunity to elect two fine people to the Berkeley School Board in November, Joe Gross and Stephen Lustig. Our next guest, sang at the hootenanny last night, [which] was a great success. Throughout this week, we have many more exciting events planned and I hope you will all come. There are schedules that are being circulated throughout the crowd. If you need information and you don't get it today, you can come to the Graduate Assembly Office.

     Now before we let Barbara Dane sing, as in all events like this, those of us who organized it went well beyond our means. We are in debt at least $3,000, and we need your help so we can have the rest of this week be as successful as today. We have some people with donation cans; they're going to be circulating the crowd, and if each of you could just reach in your pockets and pull a little bit out and put it in those cans, you would really really help us, and we feel it'd finish out this week without any debt. And everyone here who flew from all across the country might be able to -- that no one's been paid; no one's travel has been paid. We might be able to give them just a little compensation for coming out here with us today! (Applause.) So! Put a little in the can.

     Barbara Dane was here 20 years ago today, and she climbed onto that police car where Jack Weinberg was trapped, and she sang a song as she's going to for you today. (Applause.)

Barbara Dane: Thank you. That gives me great pleasure! There's only time for one song which tears my heart apart because I wanted to sing a song about non-intervention in Central America as well, but I'll settle for a little bit of shouting on that score, and let you join yourselves together in the slogan that you hear all over the world these days. I was in Europe just now and there was a big demonstration there with slogans reaching as far as Washington, I hope. (Shouts "Non casteron" several times, in response with audience.)

     Beautiful! Alright! Do it every day a little bit, alright? (Laughter.) Instead I'm going to ask you to join together in a song that's one of the songs that's part of our tremendous legacy of songs that can carry you through any kind of situation, any kind of disaster, any kind of tension, any kind of -- it's a -- like I said last night, it oughta be put in every kid's diaper pocket when they're born. It's part of that great legacy of songs that the Afro-American people have created and given to the rest of us. Now there is also a way of singing. You contrast the tension, the sadness, the grief, the fears, and you contrast that with the job of release and struggle. So the first thing we're going to do is start this song out with some moaning. If you don't know what moaning is, it means kind of humming in harmony, right? (Laughter.) It [means] crying. So moan with me a little bit now. (Sings:) Oh, freedom -- o-o-o-oh freeeeeedom! Oooh, freedom - oh... (Some words sung and spoken.)

     Don't you wanna be free? Yeah. (Loud, long applause.) You wanna be free? Do the people down in El Salvador needa be free? Yeah! Do the people down in Nicaragua needa stay free? Yeah! Do the people over in Cuba need respect for the freedom they have built? Yeah! How 'bout the people in Vietnam? Do the people right down in South Africa today deserve -- deserve their movement in __________, their day of freedom? Yes! Say that again. Yes! Do the people in Mississippi --__________ to Washington D.C., California, New York. Do we deserve our __________ and do we deserve one day to be free of all this damn racist, sexist exploitation. Do we mean it? Yeah! Let me hear it again! Yeah! And again. Yeah! There we're gonna be free! Free! Free! free, free, free, free! (Applause.)

Nancy Skinner: Thank you, Barbara. We're going to have some more singing at the end of the rally. (Applause.)

     We are extremely honored that our next speaker agreed to participate in this rally. From his essay in the Daily Cal yesterday, we know his grasp[s] of the issues we face are as incisive today as they were 20 years ago. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Mario Savio. (Long, loud applause.)

Mario Savio: Thank you, Nancy and good luck in the election. It's okay. It's fine, it's fine. I tried to write out a speech, because I was told that we had a very tight schedule. And I tried, I've really tried to write a speech for you for this occasion -- couldn't do it! So -- I think we'll have to do it with notes and wing it. (Laughter.)

     The thing in my childhood which most people here have some familiarity with, that moved me the most deeply, were the pictures of piles of bodies. I am not Jewish; those were mostly Jewish bodies. There were a lot of children's bodies in those piles. There were people of all ages; they were very thin. And I remembered seeing those pictures as a very young child and I could not understand those pictures as a young child, and I do not understand those pictures now. (Applause.)

     And I got an idea that I sort of got stuck with for a number of years: that if people had really noticed the bodies, the piles of bodies, if they had seen the pictures as I had, then they would have changed the way we live with one another. But I could see that nothing all that much had been changed about the way we live with one another.

     The Civil Rights movement just burst on the United States right on the tube. And we saw people afraid, not of pictures, afraid of things more frightening than any I had had to face. And they faced their fears -- they held one another to face their fears. And many of us in white American who had had the privileges of at least a cultural middle class -- after all, you know, I'm white, ethnic, working-class, actually. I'm mostly Sicilian, actually. But we all felt, somehow, we were part of the middle class. And I remember my parents saying things like: "You don't know how lucky you are. You haven't even had to work for it," they'd sometimes say. And I don't say that to put them down. They'd sometimes say that because they had had to struggle.

     And so I saw the people on the tube, and they had none of the privileges that I had. And more to fear. They overcame their fear by holding one another -- against the snarling dogs we saw, the snapping and the snarling dogs, against the torrents of water from the firehoses -- and they held one another! And that got to the children of white America. And we threw ourselves ardently into their movement. We wanted to be part of them, because in America of the 1950's -- a very boring and in some ways scary time -- we had seen nothing of people holding one another. And that's what the black people showed us -- that we could overcome our fears by holding one another. (Applause.)

     One principal task of that movement was to bring together blacks and whites. I remember a button that many of us cherished, a SNCC button -- Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee -- two clasped hands, black and white -- equality. That was a great achievement of the movement, an attempt at achievement, a partial achievement -- to bring about, within America, solidarity of those who had privilege and subtle fear -- fear that could not quite be named, but those who had the fear of police dogs; those who had not enough to eat; those who had seen their own parents humiliated; seen, say, a 60 year-old man called "boy" repeatedly -- and who had to grow up with that. And we attempted to bring together those two parts of America -- the part that the Mississippi all around us wanted hidden -- and our part -- the perfect part.

     Those did come together, and there was established in those days a deep solidarity. It wasn't perfect.

     Following the lead of black people, who -- by some miracle that we will never understand with complete precision -- managed to think their way and act their way out of a dungeon that they had been placed in. Following the lead of black people, one group after another, one group of oppressed people, cast off, discarded the definitions of inferiority by which society was keeping them -- had gotten them to collide -- to collude -- in keeping them powerless or poor. One group after another. It was black people first, they were "niggers" no more. It was "spics" who then were Hispanic-Americans. It was "wetbacks" -- Chicanos; it was "redskins" or even "Indians" who became Native Americans. It was all women. It was -- and this really was hard for that aging, white middle class perfection to take -- it was even even "fags" and "dykes," and somehow -- we now had "lesbians" and "gay men." (Applause.)

     Together, all of these people are a numerical majority in America. We are the majority! We are the majority! (Applause.)

     Now let me say to you something that this means. The majority makes demands. The minority calls the majority "the interest groups," and so now you have the struggle between the new majority to take control -- after all of our society, the democratic society -- we are the majority -- and on the other side, the aging, old establishment minority. Alright! We could break the bank for them, given the way in which they've got the pie split up. And it was discovered by us in the course of struggle, that if the need of each of these groups that formed a new majority -- if those needs were to be met -- and they often were needs expressed very appropriately in demands on the public authority -- well, we found that America would have to change direction. We discovered this, I think, especially in the Seventies. America would need to change direction -- how? How?

     I, fortunately, am not --[Inaudible question.] I do too! (Laughter and applause.) I -- fortunately, it gives me a certain liberty -- am not a Marxist, and so I can say it. I can say it: America, to accommodate the just demands of the new majority, has to become at least a little bit less capitalist! (Applause.) That's not such a big deal. I mean, let me say this -- there are perhaps two, maybe three countries of the major industrialized countries, in all the world, that don't have publicly financed, comprehensive health insurance, say! We are one of them! We are one of them! (Applause.) Okay. So what I'm trying to say is, that some element of moving in that direction is sort of like the metric system - come on, get off the dime, America! Now, now -- this shift in our values -- and let me spell it out -- not just a name -- this shift in our values - a shift! Hey, not a blueprint! Not jumping in the pool before you can swim. A shift! This shift in our values means that the direction of America is dominated less by production for private profit; less by production for war -- and more more [... (indistinct)] by production to meet ordinary, human needs! (Loud applause.)

     And here is the clincher and what we need to say. What we need to speak to America, because this recognition has come from the real struggles of the majority because of that for us, and we're lucky at this, eh? For us, becoming [fathingly (?)] less capitalistic; it means we don't have to become less democratic - we can become more democratic! (Applause.)

     But the understanding to bring this about is not something that matures overnight; and so there's time -- there has been time then, for the reaction to take action. What does that mean? We are now confronted -- under the guise behind the celluloid shield of an actor president -- we are now confronted with the cold war in America in its last stand. Right? (Applause.) What is it? Well, it has a cultural aspect; it has a military aspect; it has an economic aspect -- and we only have a few minutes, O.K.? (Laughter.) It's antiquated cultural values. It is that. It is very large corporations, it is that; it is the Pentagon, it is that. Alright! Now let me say -- let me say -- we need to begin to confront it, directly naming it and moving beyond it, and why? Because it is too dangerous to do otherwise. (Applause.)

     People outside our borders, less wealthy than we, have not been able to afford this dalliance with pure impossible capitalism. They have not been able to afford that; the people of Central America have said, "For us, capitalism means life under Somoza -- one Somoza or another! And we don't want it any more!" Alright! (Applause.)

     They have succeeded in one place in making revolution -- Nicaragua. The revolution has succeeded in Nicaragua. (Applause.) Now, my friends, I had trouble during the anti-Vietnam War days because it was hard for me to talk about something I had not seen. I have not been to Nicaragua, so what I say, you need to check. Check it! We know the names of lots of people in Nicaragua. We know the names of more people in Nicaragua than people in any other Central American nation, for sure! We know Daniel Ortega, we know Miguel Descoto, a priest and a member of the Cabinet. We know Ernesto Cardenal, another priest, and his brother, Fernando Cardenal. They're both in the government; it doesn't sound like godless, atheistic, communism to me! (Loud applause.)

     They write beautiful poems and had I more time, I would have read one. (Found out?) Cardenal, Ernesto, is a published poet. Jocanda _____________, an Italian name, he's written some beautiful poems. This is Nicaragua! These are real people. I want to tell you about one other person: ____________ _______________. Very few people here, I'm sure, know the name, Nelda ____________. She is a censor in Nicaragua. And they have censorship in Nicaragua because they have a state of emergency, because the United States, the CIA backed Contras are attacking from them from four sides right now -- in our name -- with the money taken out of the school lunch program of our children! This is criminal! (Long, loud applause.)

     Let me just say one last thing to you about this, please; one last thing, and then I'm done. They are afraid that our children will be sent to slaughter their children. They are afraid of those same kinds of images that frightened me! They are afraid of dead bodies! Our government is preparing a bloodbath in Central America, and we have a choice -- we have a choice! Either we manage to prevent that by establishing some kinds of bonds of real solidarity between us and the people of Nicaragua, of El Salvador,of all of Central America, and therefore make it our "Mississippi" again -- for this generation. Then it was white and black; now it is ........ (Applause drowns out last few words.) Either we succeed in making it the Mississippi of this generation, or it will be the Vietnam of this generation, and it will destroy their society and tear ours absolutely apart, and the choice may be -- I hope it is -- the choice may still be ours -- I hope it is. Thank you. (Long, loud applause.)

Nancy Skinner: Thank you. It's run over-time. We need to thank the University for not pulling the plug. We want to end with one song and send you off with one song. We encourage you to come tonight. Tonight, at 7:30 at Wheeler Auditorium, Mario, Michael Rossman, Bettina Aptheker -- many other Free Speech Movement vets will be there tonight to tell the story. We're gonna sing one more song together. Remember, if you haven't registered to vote -- register. Go to the tables that are on the Plaza. [Presenting] the Freedom Song Network.


"The Movement's moving on -- we're goin' to let it shine, we're gonna let it shine!
     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
"No more Reagan here -- we're gonna let it shine ...
"He's gone just disappear -- we're gonna let it shine...
"United we will stand -- we're gonna let it shine
"Nothin' can resist...
"Movement's movin' on...
"Free speech is our [heritage?] -- we're gonna let it shine..."

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last revision July 26, 2001


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