Hugh Holmes Norton,
Eleanor Katz, Elliott Macis,
Mary Sue Valenti,
INT: Can you tell me how people came into Berkeley.
JACKIE: Well Joan Baiez was there a lot, she was one of those people who had been a performer at such a young age she never really got to go to school. I think that we were her vicarious school exchange and we loved her. I mean she was really a hero to all of us, and she came and sang all the time at rallies. Phil Oaks didn't come until after the actual the free speech movement, he was there the next semester when we had our big Vietnam day, the first I think it was seventy two-hour teach-in and it ran around the clock, and he came and sang his songs. but it was, there was a sense we had great support from labor unions, they were very helpful, which was also interesting because they too had non-communist affidavits in order to members, in order to run for office. They had purged communists themselves these same unions, with the exception of Long Shore which I thing never did, but many of them had. For them to support us when we were being called communists was again tearing at that fabric that you could frighten us into silence by calling us the most dreaded thing in America which was communist or socialist. they would attack the Betina Apthic mercilessly and all of us by comparison, because her father was a quote "avowed communist member" and so there was a lot of that, but there was a tremendous cultural outpouring by progressive entertainers and particularly people who were folks who had been through some of these same struggles, we had, we had tremendous support, we also had the support of a lot of people who just lived in the city of Berkeley, and San Francisco and to some extent Oakland. People who thought that this was important to do, and we had just as many from those cities who wanted to shut the university down, who wanted us all thrown out of school, who thought that we all should be arrested and throw the key away, we are much more popular today in 1996 believe me than we ever were in 1964 and 65.
INT: You mention the Vietnam Day committee, can you tell me how the free speech committee grew into a major protest against the Vietnam War.
JACKIE: Well while we were involved in the free speech movement, some of the organizations got very much involved in anti-Vietnam war protests. The state department had brought non-dinziem to the campus, not after the .... but before the free speech movement, the year before, were really only a handful of us protested, most Americans did not even know what the Vietnam war was, we were still calling it a policing action, that we were really only like training South Vietnamese troops, not actually fighting ourselves. There was a lot of lying going on from the state department, the military and the presidency at that time, but the tremendous amount of activism and interest in national and international affairs was unleashed by the free speech movement. In any time and you can get eight hundred middle class academic, and you had to be academic to get in to Berkeley, this was not a school that was easy to get into. You get eight hundred academic types to be arrested for something in as was at the end of the free speech movement, and the blow that changed the faculty finally to supporting us was that massive arrest. Any time that you have eight hundred people willing to go to jail for something and another two or three thousand if could have gotten in the building would have joined us gladly, but the police kept them out of the building. you unleash a tremendous amount of belief that the system does work, that if you organize yourself and if you get involved, you can change history. and there wasn't this, you know we get portrayed frequently as very cynical. We were not cynical, we were the antithesis of cynical, we were feeling our own power, and as a result of that as it became more and more aware that there was a war going on in Vietnam. A war which that, you know and then we started backing up we found out that we'd been supporting the French through the end of their war, that we weren't even just new to this, we'd been doing this a long time, and that there were lies and secrets and the French had gotten their clocks cleaned at Dien Bien Phoo and what were we doing over there and supporting who with what kind of dictators were these people, and we were on their side. It became clear to us, that had been very involved with the free speech movement, that we should have a self-education because we were never going to learn about this in those classrooms. So we had a just, probably one of the most stunning experiences of my life was the teach-in, because we had experts, really from literally from all over the world, who managed to come to Berkeley that weekend, and to teach students, so each an hour or two at a time and the crowds were enormous, the university, because we did it Friday to Monday morning, backed off and let us do it and we had sound systems and we had everybody in their mother and brother and sister were marshals and it didn't end, there was no ending time, it was continuous, it was twenty four hours a day from Friday until, Friday afternoon until Monday morning. and it was, the most extraordinary series of people like Phil Oakes and others entertaining and then just incredible people putting the cold, this into the perspective of the cold war. I remember the most impressive for me was Isaac Doicher's speech, who came and explained to students who had, to students who had history majors, about the cold war, and it's origins and the deals and FDR and Churchill and dividing up the world like it were just a little plaything amongst Stalin and the three of them, and you take this piece and you take this piece and this will be our piece. And I remember sitting with history majors who were just mouths open learning history from people who had lived it and people who were willing to talk to this audience that would stay up, twenty, people just slept out on the lawns, it's one of the nice things we do have good weather, so we were just sleeping out on the lawns, and between speec
INT: And then there was the demonstrations around the Opentrop Center.
INT: And then there was the demonstrations around the Opentrop Center.
JACKIE: Right now I was gone. My brother stayed in Berkeley and I know a lot about what happened but it's all second hand. Right after the spring semester June of 65 I graduated, and I went to the university of Chicago, where I got involved in the Anti-War movement there but, but I was gone from Berkeley for all of the stuff at the draft center and so forth, though many of the people that I knew from that period were very involved in that.
INT: There are two other things that I would like to pick up on, first there's the business of harassment, you mentioned that you were labeled communist and the rest of it, can you tell me a little bit about what you personally experienced on an everyday level, in terms of being followed and harassment.
JACKIE: You know if you don't ever experience in your life, you just don't believe it, I mean that was my view anyway. I didn't believe it, my phone was tapped, everyday when I left there was one or two men who would follow me to campus who would wait outside my classrooms, who would follow me to lunch, and after a while we would, we would speak, I mean Hi how are you, I mean do you think it's going to rain today, you know, I mean there was sort of nothing that you could do about it. and then we started, we started getting, because it was very unnerving in spite of what everybody will tell you, it is very unnerving, and they did it openly, I think because the point was to unnerve you. but we do things like pick up the telephone and say that this is S251J to 40693, Mary had a little lamb, eat pizza 7 and hang up, it was gibberish and meant absolutely nothing, but we hoped that we were keeping them busy trying to figure out what these codes were, and there were of course no codes. you do things like that, but it was very unnerving. There were rumors continuously, there were agent provocateurs, there were, we were completely infiltrated because we knew we were completely infiltrated because we'd keep finding people in the steering committee meetings that nobody could ever find their address or where they lived or what classes they were taking, and basically we decided really as a policy to just assume that everything that we said and did was immediately known by the police and anybody else who was against what we were doing. there were rumors, frequently that that in the middle of the night, all of the leadership was going to be arrested, on conspiracy charges, at one point all of us did secretly select another person who only knew you and one other person to immediately form a new steering committee if we were taken away. We all thought we were, the FBI and the red squad of Oakland police, passed these rumors through other students all the time so that we would be kind of off our guard, not off our guard, on guard part of that all of us all the time, I just remembered a friend of mine had an apartment and he had trouble getting a dial tone and he just called the telephone company to have them come and figure out what was wrong with his phone, and they kept coming inside and we were all just hanging out that afternoon, it was a Friday afternoon after classes, and finally the guy came in from the phone company obviously nobody had informed him, but he said I just can't figure out, there are about five lines on your line, I don't know where any of them are coming from or going to he said but I took them all off, tour phone should be alright now you know. so there was, we all took it in kind of stride, but I don't think that anybody was really unaffected by it, the notion that you really do believe that you could be snatched off at any time and arrested, that for conspiracy charges, that you could, that your phones were tapped, that you're you are being followed and no-one denied that you were being followed. it was all you know pretty scary and of course made us all wonder what they were doing about real criminals and real crime if they were expending this amount of resources on those of us who were trying to promote the first amendment. it made me worry about how they expend they're resources. I figured that you know, I much rather them be trying to do something about organized crime or something in the city than to follow us, we were pretty benign people around, but it was very unnerving. There was no doubt about it, I can remember the emotions I had at the time about it.
INT: I'll like to ask you about connections with Berkeley and the whole defense industry and its role in the Cold War. What did you see, what do you know about the involvement?
JACKIE: Well they, they kept the military industrial complex of Berkeley fairly well hidden, by not having most of it on campus. There was a radiation laboratory on the hills above Berkeley, and then of course there was the Rivermore Lab, which was a major weapons and guidance system, production system in outside of Berkeley, but it was far enough away that it was sort of out of sight out of mind; and I think that was basically the plan, the geography of it; but I don't think most students missed that we were a part of the military industrial complex. First of all, reserve officer training program was required of all men, at the time, was 100%, you had to go to into ROTC. second of all, military recruiters were everywhere and endless, and this was not, this was before the Vietnam war. and so it was, and every, really virtually every career day that they held each spring had all of the major players in the military industrial complex, recruiting engineers from Berkeley, recruiting biologists from Berkeley, recruiting technicians from Berkeley, recruiting the initial, the early computer folks - they were all there. So I don't think really too many students missed that we were part and parcel of the Federal Government military and, military involvement, and therefore Cold War involvement.
INT: Also the fact that ........... Eisenhower ....... invested all that money partly in the educational system, and partly specifically for engineering etc. (Unclear)
JACKIE: Well I was in Junior High School when Sputnik went up, and of course all of us were really annoyed because suddenly all of our requirements in Math and Science changed for High School graduation, for college entrance. those of us who did not feel this was our strongest area, were not pleased with the change in requirements - but yes, there was a lot of money invested; it was really the last time that Federal Government seriously invested in public education.
INT: You mentioned the proximity of Berkeley to East Oakland, which meant that you saw a lot of the segregation and conditions down there. There was also an association between a lot of the Berkeley activists and the Panthers.
JACKIE: Yes, the Black Panther party and the, some of the students. Now this was not a very large number, but some of the Berkeley UC students were involved in the Breakfast Program. some of the further out left groups who envisioned that America might have a violent revolution, were attracted to them by their apparent military kind of style with marching and guns and stuff; but there were a lot of others of us who weren't quite as paramilitary in our own ideologies, were attracted to them because they did have a lot of discipline as an organization, and they were providing a really important service. They had a Breakfast Program before the Federal Government had a Breakfast Program; and so a number of us got a pretty good eye into what Oakland looked like at the poorest ends, by going into those churches and helping with those Breakfast Programs.
INT: Could you put on record exactly what the Breakfast Programs were?
JACKIE: There was a free Breakfast Program served in church basements, largely fundraised by Black Panther party donations to them, and they would provide a hot free breakfast to school children, before they went to school.
INT: At the same time as the Berkeley Movement took off, there was a parallel movement, you might call it, really starting down in ........ ....... San Francisco, which was much more connected to free love, drugs etc. Were you involved in that at all? How did that link into what Berkeley was doing?
JACKIE: Yeah I was involved in some of that - it was pretty hard not to be. The, there was always a tension between the counter culture, as we called it, and the political culture, because the counter culture really wanted you sort of to turn on, tune in, and drop out. And we were anything but dropouts. but I think, you know, there was a fair amount of drug experimentation, at that time in Berkeley - much more later - but it was beginning then; and certainly the issue of having sexual relations without being married, was definitely, those mores definitely were changing in Berkeley quite rapidly - more for men than women, and definitely some of the men in the movement became almost like movie stars, with groupies, which a lot of the women really hated; but they did, they became sort of star quality, and they had their little groupies around them - and so that was an interesting sideline; but there was definitely all of those influences were involved at the same time. It was a period, the Cold War was mixed in with the Puritanism of American culture, which is a very schizophrenic Puritanism - it's at the one and the same time anything goes, but don't get caught, is sort of the real morality; and pretend that not anything goes - but anything does go, as long as you don't get caught. and that was being challenged too. people were saying that, you know, that there was nothing automatically wrong about having sex before marriage; the birth control pill was available to students at the Student Health Service, and most of the women I know were availing themselves of it - not all, but most. the men were taking as little responsibility as they still are for these things; but there was a great deal more, there was a change - it was a, it was a period of change, about attitudes, about sexuality, a period of change about relationships, there was a period of change about drugs, to some extent: although, you know, colleges had always had reputations for alcohol consumers, there was more marijuana smoking, and there was some acid - and different people participated at different levels. Now people who were really involved in the leadership of the free speech movement did not involve themselves in drugs at all - it was just too dangerous. if they wanted to, if they didn't want to, was really a matter of no, no concern. if you were in the leadership you were not imbibing, carrying - in fact one of our big fears that the police frequently planted drugs on activists, so we for sure didn't want to have any reason for them to be able to arrest us for those things. But a lot of it was going on.
INT: Was it exhilarating and fun?
JACKIE: It was exhilarating, more for men than for women. For women it was a lot of mixed messages, and kind of caught in the shift of mores, a lot of, and not yet a time when there were women's groups, where you could go and talk about it. So women, a lot of women felt pretty isolated, and weren't talking to each other about the fact that we agreed with the men that pre-marital sex was not an evil thing for which you would die in eternal damnation; on the other hand there were an awful lot of love 'em and leave 'em guys - so what exactly were the rules of this game? This was a tough time for women - this was not an easy time for women.
INT: So you got involved obviously from the very early days, in a small-time feminist movement in Berkeley. Can you tell me what desires led you into that movement, and what exactly were you doing in it?
JACKIE: I was not what anyone describe as a feminist while I was in Berkeley - that that happened later. I was unhappy as a woman in Berkeley, because there were two types of women in the political scheme of things: there was the rank and file woman who was expected to be a groupie, make the sandwiches and cool-aid for the endless meetings and demonstrations, and to be seen and not heard; and then there were the few women who were in the leadership, of which I was one, who were not accepted as one of the boys, or as one of the girls. We were sort of neuters. in fact interestingly enough, Bettina Absacre and I were on a panel some years later - we had not seen each other in years - and we looked at each other's notes, and we'd written almost the same speech, about this experience. It was not an easy time. Now she had a, quote, "advantage" over me, in that she was married at the time - so she was not worried about her social life. I was not married, and my social life, which I won't say was ever fabulous, went to zero during this period - because I wasn't one of the boys, and I was not one of the girls; and it was a very tough time, it was part of why I left - that and the FBI; I wanted to get out of the, being under the microscope. But certainly all of the issues that were going to later make me feminist were there: how do you have legitimacy as a leader in your own right - all of the things that we wrote skits around later, when I was in the Los Angeles Women's Liberation Union, of meetings in which women would suggest ideas, and it was like nobody heard it; and then men would say the same thing an hour later, and everybody would say, what a wonderful idea - which I know still happens. I mean it's not like it goes away; but those things, for me, I didn't really get my consciousness raised for probably three or four years after I left Berkeley.