By Jo Freeman
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Extra resources for At Berkeley in the Sixties: The Education of an Activist, 1961-1965
Our classrooms were barracks, but the grounds were spacious and had a lot of facilities, such as a swimming pool, that were not present at the usual high school. A. from the University of Southern California on the GI Bill, taking me with her to class. I went to college before I went to kindergarten. She revered education. That’s why she sent me to Berkeley, the largest and most prestigious campus of the University of California, despite my youth. 1 The California public colleges traditionally admitted everyone who was eligible and did not charge tuition to residents.
However, California was run by Republicans, so Democratic leaders welcomed new blood. 2 Of¤cial political parties were weak in California as a result of legislation passed in the Progressive Era. Cross-¤ling was a legacy of Governor Hiram Johnson (1911–1916). After running for vice president with Theodore Roosevelt on the 1912 Progressive Party ticket, he engineered cross-¤ling through the legislature so he could run for the Senate in 1916 as the candidate of both the Progressive and Republican Parties.
I offered to answer the questions of those who opened the door and said if I didn’t know the answer I would go get my mother. Since she had trained me well and few voters asked complicated questions, I seldom had to do this. In the ’56 campaign I had my own precincts, speci¤cally the ones in our Van Nuys neighborhood of two-bedroom tract homes and created my own—temporary—political organization. I rode my bike with a basket full of campaign literature to each street and paid local kids a nickel each to lit-drop the block.
At Berkeley in the Sixties: The Education of an Activist, 1961-1965 by Jo Freeman