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HUAC Propaganda Film
"Operation Abolition" (43 minutes)
Follow this link
and search for
"Operation Abolition"

The Reply: "Operation Correction"
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and search for
"Operation Correction"

"Pacifica Radio at 60:
KPFA Remains a Sanctuary
of Dissent Six Decades
After Its Founding"
(Democracy Now!
April 15, 2009)
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Irving Wesley Hall,
"Reflections on Howard Zinn,
J. D. Salinger and
May 13, 1960"
Steve Lendman Show
(Feb. 1, 2010)
Follow this link to listen.


In Search of Truth
By Burton White
and Irving Wesley Hall
(Follow the link to
download .pdf.)

The Meisenbach Case
By Irving Wesley Hall
(Follow the link to
download .pdf.)

Pacifica Station KPFA Archives

"The Campus Files:
Reagan, Hoover
and the UC Red Scare"

By Seth Rosenfeld,
San Francisco Chronicle (Follow the link
to read Rosenfeld's
series on the Chronicle's
Web site.)

McCarthyism Today

Sam Stein,
Conservatives Turn
Against Liz Cheney—
As Bad As McCarthy

Joe Conason, “The
New McCarthyism

Chris Hedges, “Israeli
Crackdown Puts Liberal
Jews on the Spot

Navigating Our Site


GI Rights Hotline


En Español
La línea directa de los derechos de los militares (GI Rights Hotline, 877-447-4487)
está para ayudarle.

Depleted Uranium

Series by
Irving Wesley Hall

Part One
Dick Cheney
Is No Wizard of Oz

Part Two
Dick and Hillary’s
Dirty Little Secret

Part Three
Depleted Uranium
for Dummies

Part Four
GIs, Beware
Radioactive Showers!

The Deadly Cover-up
It’s been a long and arduous road to gather accurate statistics about veterans sickened by depleted uranium and other toxins during the Gulf, Afghan and
Iraq wars.

BBC Report

Doctors Report Rise
in Birth Defects in Fallujah:
U.S. Weaponry to Blame?

BBC News
Follow this link to see report


Pentagon tests
depleted uranium
explosives in U.S.;
residents near
San Francisco
fight back:
Depleted Uranium
Poison Explosions
Target U.S. Citizens

by Cathy Garger
This is also an
excellent primer
on depleted


Democracy Now!

INN World Report



Drilling Beneath
the Headlines



Heath Care-NOW!
Organizing for a national
single-payer health care


Venezuela Electronic
News Service




The Nation



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SF City Hall
Anti-HUAC demonstrators dragged down wet stairs in San Francisco's City Hall
by city police on Friday, May 13, 1960.

The Forgotten Spark
That Set the Sixties Aflame

50th Anniversary
May 13, 2010

Police Using Fire Hoses on Students
San Francisco police use fire hoses on peaceful demonstrators

On “Black Friday” May 13, 1960, San Francisco police attacked hundreds of Bay Area students with fire hoses and Billy clubs. Sixty-four young people were dragged and shoved down City Hall's majestic marble stairwell, thrown into paddy wagons and packed into jail cells.

I was one of them.

We were protesting the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in the home port of the militant International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) and just across the San Francisco Bay from the Berkeley campus of the University of California.

Chronicle front page May 14, 1960The next morning the press accounts labeled our protest a “Communist-led riot.” However, black-and-white TV footage showed well-dressed, non-violent youngsters tossed down unyielding stairs glistening with rivulets of water.


FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover, in a well publicized report, smeared us as “Communist dupes.” HUAC widely distributed its propaganda film, Operation Abolition, with the same outrageous message. Imagine the present FBI chief on Fox News attacking today's student demonstrations against tuition hikes, layoffs and cuts as youngsters brainwashed by al-Queda operatives!

Here we were; a handful of idealistic but unorganized college kids up against America's Cold War heavy hitters. Bob Meisenbach described the feeling in his poem “Einstein's Granddaughter”:

It was the cops, the Committee
and J. Edgar Hoover
versus me.
Not a fair contest.

We formed the Bay Area Student Committee for the Abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee and mailed thousands of copies of our factual rebuttal—the pamphlet In Search of Truth. We gave national interviews, spoke to college and civic groups all over the country, and debated ex-Congressmen and John Birchers—the Tea Baggers of the period.

I even debated William F. Buckley!

Youngsters in their teens and twenties passionately committed to the Bill of Rights dealt the committee a mortal blow. HUAC's well-funded cinematic counterattack backfired. Newly politicized students from across the nation cheered the spunky kids in Operation Abolition and flocked to Berkeley, eager to change the world.

Much to our surprise, our spontaneous, spirited and courageous defense of civil liberties changed America forever. Our political baptism changed our lives forever.

Albert Einstein's 18-year old granddaughter Evelyn was the only celebrity arrested, but veterans of Black Friday later went on to become prominent professionals, teachers, filmmakers, writers, mediators and, above all, fully engaged citizens.

Because of May 13, I became an activist for life. It was a blessing to have been arrested, to experience youthful righteous solidarity, to plead a just cause against mass media lies, to challenge the FBI and Congress—and win.

Wordsworth's words captured our exhilaration:

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!

Had we not skipped classes that day, protested in the City Hall rotunda against our exclusion from the hearings, and had we not spontaneously responded with non-violence when the police attacked, my life would have taken a completely different course.

What if I had stayed at home? Or not participated in the empowering national writing and speaking campaign that disgraced the most powerful man in America, J. Edgar Hoover, and placed under permanent house arrest the most tyrannical committee of Congress?

Certainly, I never could have written an inspiring, optimistic novel in which Evelyn Einstein serves as the heroic role model for Albert's three brilliant great-great granddaughters. In The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys sixteen-year-old Maxine, Norma 14 and Tina 7 unite their Christian classmates to foil the Cheney gang's plot to steal the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

Talk about changing history!

As the fiftieth anniversary of Black Friday gallops toward us, I'm eager to share the life stories of my many colleagues—not just the notorious jailbirds, but the organizers, the participants and our supporters on May 12-14, 1960 and afterwards. This site commemorates the historical event and celebrates those whose choices assured its success.

Black Friday: The Surprise
Ending of the Frightened Fifties

January 1960. The United States' GNP hit $400 billion. Doctors transplanted the first human kidney. John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for president. Few Americans had heard of Viet Nam.

February 1960. The U.S. Army unveiled the M14 automatic rifle that fired 250 shots a minute. Do-it-yourself nuclear bomb shelters were marketed for $105. Four Negro students launched the first Woolworth lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina.

March 1960. 1000 Negro youngsters peacefully protested Jim Crow segregation in Montgomery Alabama, the capital of the Old Confederacy. Dozens of Blacks were gunned down by police in South Africa in the Sharpeville Massacre. 100,000 Afghans cheered visiting Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Kabul.

April 1960. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the Wisconsin Democratic primary. Republican candidate Richard Nixon assured newspaper editors he was a "progressive conservative." 75,000 London demonstrators marched for unilateral British nuclear disarmament.

Communists Ninety Miles Away!

Fidel Castro's popular new revolutionary government nationalized foreign-owned banks, industry and farmland, and began to replace Havana's slums with new housing for the working poor.

May 1960. The FDA approved the first contraceptive for American women. Israeli commandos kidnapped Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina for trial in Israel. The Soviet Union shot down a U-2 spy plane embarrassing President Eisenhower, breaking up a meeting of world leaders and torpedoing nuclear disarmament talks in Geneva.

Despite the success of Martin Luther King's Montgomery Bus Boycott and the growing lunch counter sit-in movement, segregation still ruled the South in 1960. Mississippi's population was two million, 47% were African-Americans, but only 20,000 were registered—a half million were barred from voting. The state was represented in Washington by white racists like Congressman Edwin Willis.

The Mobilization That Sent
the Witch-Hunters Packing


On May 12, 1960 three Congressional members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began three days of hearings in San Francisco's City Hall. Mississippi's Edwin Willis chaired the meetings.

Although Joseph McCarthy had been censored by his Senate colleagues in 1954 and died an alcoholic in 1957, HUAC continued his work by staging periodic "road shows" around the country. The stated purpose of the May 1960 San Francisco hearings was to "expose" the "subversive" role of the Communist Party in Northern California.

At the time the Communist Party USA was too weak to subvert a garden club and HUAC knew it. In San Francisco the Congressional interrogators knew more about the party than the subpoenaed witnesses because the FBI had planted informers in the party's national leadership.

Bulldog kissing Hoover

The Committee's real purpose was to smear as "subversive" the area's small peace, civil rights and civil liberties movements, and to attempt to weaken the bargaining power of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) led by militant Harry Bridges. The colleges and universities? As strange as it may seem today, the nation's campuses had long been largely devoid of political activity.

For decades HUAC and its media parrots and "patriotic" supporters had dictated to the citizenry which ideas were "American" and which were "Un-American". The McCarthyites imposed a subtle thought control that stifled creativity in culture and silenced voices critical of the corporate-imposed Cold War consensus.

The military-industrial complex had gained control of the economy. Big business "anti-communists" had housebroken the powerful post-World War II labor movement. Tens of millions of disenfranchised Americans lived in abject poverty. The republic had become an empire, but “imperialism” was a word that only “commies” used.

Based on past road show victories, the House Committee expected to leave San Francisco triumphantly with the local press intimidated, the community polarized, and liberal groups demoralized and divided. Its favored right-wing fans like the John Birch Society, Anti-Communist Crusades and Young Americans for Freedom would be energized to launch their own witch hunts in local workplaces, schools boards and public libraries.

That's not what happened.

HUAC-group 2

Citizens from all over the Bay Area drove up freeways and across bridges to San Francisco's civic center to attend the widely publicized hearings. To everyone's surprise politically independent students organized the demonstration and thousands of young people turned out from dozens of Bay Area high schools and colleges.

During the first day, the Committee was challenged by eloquent "hostile" witnesses inside the hearing room and disrupted outside the metal doors by a growing non-violent protest by young people arbitrarily excluded from the "public" hearings.

HUAC-group 3

Like a tree, standing by the water,
We shall not be moved.

            — May 1960 San Francisco “rioters”

"Angry Mob"

We're Not in Kansas Anymore!

On the second day, May 13, later called “Black Friday” by the local press, sixty-four college and high school students and their supporters were arrested.  On Saturday, the final day of the hearings, the McCarthyites were met by five-thousand longshoremen, outraged citizens and young picketers who encircled the city's classic landmark.

HUAC's 1960 San Francisco junket turned out to be its last. Although Black Friday is barely remembered today, a new generation had fearlessly confronted McCarthyism and courageously freed American politics from its deadening grip.

On May 13, the Fifties' gray social conformity was transformed into the pyrotechnic Sixties. The decade of rigid national thought control and the marginalization of dissent faded into history. On Black Friday, the vibrant energy of America's youth was liberated by high-powered fire hoses.

My students sometimes ask me
what I did during the sixties.
I tell them I started the sixties.

                   “Einstein's Granddaughter” by Bob Meisenbach

Thanks to Operation Abolition, the students' valiant defense of freedom of speech and association sent sparks across America. The protest led directly to Berkeley's Free Speech Movement four years later when 800 peaceful students were arrested in the Sproul Hall sit-in for campus freedom of political speech. The ILWU is the union of choice for the striking Borax workers confronting the Rio Tinto mining giant in California's Mojave Desert today.

The May 1960 demonstrators inspired a fearless, selfless and creative generation whose survivors—now in their sixties and seventies--still serve society today.

Black Friday was the forgotten spark that set the Sixties aflame. We remember here its heroes and heroines and salute the rewarding lives of social engagement that they've lived.

— Irving Wesley Hall

Voices 1960-2010

This site is an ongoing “work in progress” presenting the stories of the participants—how May 1960 shaped their lives and what they are doing now.We will be posting our reminiscences, photos, tributes, graphics, historical analysis, songs and poems.

We are currently converting the 1960 LP “Sound of Protest” to an .mp3 file and searching through our Freedom of Information Act files for juicy tidbits to share with you online. Visit us often. To join our mailing list, click the icon below and e-mail us your request:

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Who Was Who?

We will expand author and activist Jo Freeman's on-line Free Speech Movement cast of characters to encompass the participants in the 1960 HUAC events and their aftermath.

In case you forgot—Officer Michael Maguire turned on the fire hoses.

William Mandel

William Mandel blasted Dixiecrat
Chairman Edwin Willis
from the witness stand.



Bob Meisenbach was the only demonstrator tried for the protest.  Attorney Charles Garry defended Bob and obtained an acquittal—putting the final stake in the heart of HUAC and its lies.  

Help Us Celebrate
the Fiftieth Anniversary
May 10-16, 2010

The May 1960 "veterans" intend to insure that the corporate and alternative media remember the May 12-14 events during the week of May 10-16. Please email us media leads and invitations. May 1960 raconteurs, step forward! Arise ye recovered Communist dupes!

In Memoriam

Fred Haines 1936-2008

Fred covered the May 1960 demonstration for Pacifica Radio Station KPFA. We'll never forget his voice. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Haines)

Michael Rossman 1940-2008

Long-time Berkeley activist Michael Rossman served as the recording secretary for the Bay Area Student Committee for the Abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Michael and Fred died in May 2008 a week apart.

Also missed: Frank Wilkinson, Charles Garry, Ernest Besig, Charlie Muscatine, and Rick Chesney.


Please contribute to our work. Funds will be used to research, collect, digitalize and post information about "The Forgotten Spark That Set the Sixties Aflame" and to focus public attention to the fiftieth anniversary of the event. We are also eagerly looking for documentary and video clip makers.

Email us for payment instructions. click the icon below:

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If you like what you see, please link to our site.

Evelyn Einstein
Evelyn Einstein

Einstein’s Granddaughter
by Robert Meisenbach

I was in jail once
well, actually, more than once
but this time with Einstein's granddaughter.
Not in the same cell of course.
They wouldn't allow that—
guys and girls in the same cell
wouldn’t be jail!
But in the same collective slammer.
She was arrested for rioting.
She didn’t.
I was arrested for being
the ringleader of the riot.
I wasn’t.
It was all very confusing.
The press got it all wrong—
they weren’t pundits back then.

In the spring of 1960
the House UnAmerican Activities Committee
brought their road show to San Francisco
looking for UnAmericans
and cheap publicity,
rounded up the usual suspects
and put then on display.
A little public scorn never hurt anybody
and nailing commies can get you re-elected
to the Lower House of Reprehensibles
especially down South.

It was bad timing.
We in the Silent Generation
suddenly got loud
and demanded to be heard
in the hearings.
The committee heard us
singing in protest "We shall not be moved"
and called the cops. They moved us.
A riot ensued.
Bedlam broke out at City Hall
firehoses, bruises, and banged heads
and a lot of screaming
kind of like a hockey game.
She and I were arrested
along with 62 other soggy students.
I didn’t think the singing was that bad.

I considered dating her
but I’m shy around smart women
and she had a lot of Albert's genes
more or less in a relative way.
And besides even if we did hit it off
she’d likely leave me one day
claiming she needed her space—
time continuum too—
something I’d never understand
not being female or a quantum physicist.

So here’s the deal—
she goes Scot free
and I go to trial.
It was the cops, the Committee
and J. Edgar Hoover
versus me.
Not a fair fight.

I won.
And became a passing celebrity
in the fickle press.
They got it wrong again.
When first I was charged
I was a devil, guilty as sin
but when the “not guilty” verdict came down
an angel of innocence I became.
That was the onset
of the wild sixties
and like much of history
illusion, confusion were everywhere.

Who had a clue of the madness to come?
Camelot died with Kennedy.
Tough times if your name began with K.
Bobby and Martin went down too.
The decade of hope turned to decay— a dichotomy of cynicism ruled the day
Woodstock                            Altamont
flower children                    Manson family
hippies                                    street people
drugs                                        overdosing
free love                                  STDs
picketing                                mobs
passive resistance              bombs
and the Viet Nam war just wouldn’t go away
and just got worse and worse every day.

Half blind back then, now I see
we were treading on the edge of history
and never looked over to the abyss below.
We paid then and are paying still.
That decade is with us today.
Newer weapons; same old wars.

Kids desperate for excitement
for a walk on the wild side
are fascinated with those hippie days.
My students sometimes ask me
what I did during the sixties.
I tell them I started the sixties.
They don’t believe that
so I tell them about the time
I was in jail with Einstein’s granddaughter.
They don’t believe that either.
Good thing they weren't on my jury.

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