Public Comment

Social Justice Symposium Tomorrow To Discuss Occupy and Activism

By Lance Dwyer
Friday February 03, 2012 - 10:47:00 AM

Bay Area activism has proven once again that it can withstand government resistance, police brutality and a little bit of winter’s rain and cold. 

Just as UC Berkeley administrators in the 1960s eventually came to the realization that the Free Speech Movement would not be silenced, officials like Oakland Mayor Jean Quan are slowly learning that the Occupy movement will continue to persevere as well. 

The evidence of its longevity and sustainability can be seen through the thousands of UC Berkeley students marching the streets in November in response to the brutal beatings inflicted against fellow students by campus police. It can be seen through the Port Shutdown on Dec. 12 that resulted in an estimated loss of $8 million in revenue for the Oakland port alone. It can be seen in the occupation of an empty building in Oakland in late January; a building organizers plan to use to provide social services. 

These powerful demonstrations collectively highlight the proud tradition of peaceful resistance in the Bay Area; a tradition that has transcended time and ingrained itself into the local culture. There is perhaps no greater indication of the Bay Area’s activist reputation than the international recognition of Occupy Oakland as a leading voice in the direction of the broader movement. 

The rich history and renowned tradition of activism in the Bay Area will be celebrated through a special cross-generational conversation on Saturday Feb. 4 at the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley between UC Santa Cruz professor and Free Speech Movement co leader Bettina Aptheker and Occupy Oakland activist Myriah Sierra. 

The two women, who are set apart by discipline, generation and cause while still deeply connected through their respective places in the living history of Bay Area activism, will come together as part of the afternoon keynote presentation at the Social Justice Symposium (SJS).  

In light of the recent and ongoing successes made by the Occupy movement, this year’s symposium will offer a unique opportunity to stand on the historical foundation that Aptheker represents, as activists will come together to seek an answer to the age old reocurring question that plagues virtually every movement: “what’s next?”. 

Anyone interested in attending the Social Justice Symposium can register for free at 


Lance Dwyer is a resident of Berkeley and Masters of Social Welfare Student at UC Berkeley.