When We Sighted the Yellow Submarine
On campus one day during the FSM, I was handed an invitation to a CORE picket, done in ornate curlicues and advertising "an elegant cast of imported performing bigots." It was the first political leaflet with a sense of humor that I’d ever seen. As our aspects emerge, a slow and difficult wedding of them goes on. That leaflet marked one stage; this one commemorates another.
In December 1966, the Administration sent their police to evict an anti-war table from our Student Union. The scene blew, and by midnight a crowd of 3,000 voted to call the school out for its second major strike. As usual, our action gained us nothing tangible except reprisals -- for the rest of the Sixties, after FSM, there was no significant institutional change, political or educational, at Berkeley.
But also as usual, our action gave us something of ourselves. Flesh in a granite canyon, we held one last meeting, to call off the strike and seek anther way. A thousand crowded into a lecture hall, we set up an open microphone, and for hours people rose to testify. At the end, all that was clear was that something had come together in us. We stood up, some weak scrap of the lnternationale began and stumbled, and then suddenly the whole room burst into singing "We all live in a vellow submarine,” chorus after chorus.
What we were celebrating was quite precise. The myth of flower-child innocence had been ours at first too. Even without the media to confuse us, while we were digesting the first major effects of grass and acid almost all believed that these divorced the will from political action. In this strike, for the first time we saw hippies and activists join together in action. And in this meeting, we made our first mass public call for a broader community of our own in Berkeley, beyond the campus. (It was already coming together.)
This leaflet was Strike Committee's last formal communique. We decided upon the mask because throughout the affair we'd been accused of bringing "mass coercion" to bear upon the University. Of all the leaflets I wrote or helped with in a decade of Berkeley politics, I signed only this one, discretely, because it was such a joy.