Rosemary Joyce
Rosemary Joyce

Dear Graduate Students,

Commemorate: dictionary definitions stress celebrating and honoring something, often through a ceremony or other action, or by making a physical marker.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives as the origin of “commemorate” a Latin verb meaning “to make mention of”. It seems appropriate that, as Berkeley hosts events marking fifty years since the Free Speech Movement emerged here, this commemoration is at its root a process of speaking.

The legacy of the Free Speech Movement is contested, and its history is open to multiple readings. That contestation, and those historical readings, are subjects for the research of Berkeley faculty and graduate students. Some of that scholarship is reflected in a website created to reflect on what happened in 1964.

The history is an inspiring one; starting with students active in the Civil Rights Movement, the FSM ultimately gained the overwhelming support of the Academic Senate “that the University regulate only the time, place and manner of student political activity and make no regulations restricting the content of speech or advocacy.” The FSM engaged undergraduates, faculty, and graduate students in a common project of demanding that the university not infringe speech due to its political content.

The legacy of their efforts is evident in the research and community engagement carried out here, where no topic is off limits. As a scholarly institution, Berkeley has preserved the documentary record of this extraordinary time, ensuring that future generations will be in a position to explore these events that changed the landscape of higher education in the United States.

This is a legacy that does not belong to the university, but does in some sense belong to every student here. I urge you to take advantage of the continuing series of events this fall through which this history and its relevance will be illustrated, debated, and of course, commemorated.

Warm regards,

Rosemary A. Joyce
Interim Dean of the Graduate Division
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor
of Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology