Public Comment

Civil Rights in Danger: Free Speech a Tool

Gene Bernardi, SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for LibertyDefense)
Friday September 22, 2017 - 03:10:00 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: We're fortunate today to get a letter from Gene Bernardi which she also sent to our mutual colleague Carol Denney and Carol's response, which is posted below. This kind of dialogue is very valuable, and we appreciate being able to publish both points of view in the same issue.

Emphasis by Chancellor Carol Christ of U.C. Berkeley must be on the threat to Civil Rights espoused by white supremacist groups and speakers. These groups and their representatives want to do away with what remains of the achievements of the '50s and '60s: integrated schools, housing, workforce, recreational facilities and voting rights. The local Civil Rights Movement of the '60s at U.C. Berkeley needed Free Speech, e.g. the right to distribute flyers and hold rallies on campus, mainly Sproul Plaza, in order to recruit students and others to take part in sit-ins at Bay Area hotels, Cadillac row and other businesses that refused to hire blacks. We also were working to pass a Fair Housing Ordinance in Berkeley. The Real Estate industry adhered to restrictive covenants that barred blacks from living above Berkeley's Sacramento Street. 

Chancellor Christ's Free Speech Week is ill advised. We need a Civil Rights Week, Year and Century! Free speech and assembly are tools for working on the achievement of particular goals through the expression of opinions, and strategies, such as rallies and marches. The least Chancellor Christ must do during her Free Speech Week is invite and schedule speakers who believe in Civil Rights, equality and justice. She must also allow unbarricaded public University land to be open to counterprotesters to the white supremacist speakers.