Free Speech Movement Cafe Dedicated

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To celebrate the campus' legacy of political activism, the UC Berkeley community will gather today for a dedication ceremony at the new Free Speech Movement Cafe.

Speakers expected at the ceremony include Chancellor Robert Berdahl and the widow of student activist Mario Savio.

The $1.6 million cafe, located in the Moffitt Library, is part of a larger campus effort to document the history of the 1960s' acrimonious battle for free expression.

A project funded with a $3.5 million gift from UC Berkeley alumnus Stephen M. Silverstein will give university libraries $1.4 million to buy books and $500,000 to establish a digital archive of documents related to the movement, in addition to the money allocated for construction of the cafe.

"The project is meant to provide historical information to the current generation of students (and give) them a good background of what the Free Speech Movement is all about," said Michael Rancer, the library's chief administrative officer.

He said alumni of the movement helped design the cafe and oversee the project.

The cafe's vendor, Strada Various Inc., also owns Cafe Strada and two other cafes on campus.

UC Berkeley real estate manager Helen Levay, who negotiated the contract with Strada Various Inc., said income from the vendor's rent will go to university libraries.

The cafe aims to display artifacts from the movement and provide a public space for conversation, said university spokesperson Josť Rodriguez.

At 1,460 square feet, the walls of the cafe present memorabilia of the campus upheaval that occurred between October and December 1964, when UC Berkeley philosophy student Savio led a protest in favor of students' right to free expression on campus.

When campus police arrested Jack Weinberg on Oct. 1, 1964, for setting up a table advertising the Congress for Racial Equality, students protested against the university ban on free speech and blocked the police car from driving away.

Three months of protests and campus upheaval followed. After a Dec. 2, 1964 student sit-in, police arrested nearly 800 protesters in 12 hours. The mass demonstration induced the university to drop the ban on free speech, Rodriguez said.

"The Free Speech Movement changed the rules of how students engaged in political debate and in discourse on campus," he said. "It fostered a new culture of student activism and public service and students realized that they have a constitutional right to speak on any issue they like."

Some students, however, said they are wary of the cafe's mixture of history and capitalism.

"I'm not an expert on the Free Speech Movement, but it seems like someone is capitalizing on it," said sophomore Nathan Galt-Holtz.


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