Martin Luther King Jr.

King calls Cal students “the conscience of our nation”

“America has brought the nation and the world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future … And yet we have not learned the simple art of walking the earth as brothers and sisters.”

So said Martin Luther King Jr. on May 17, 1967, as the Vietnam War raged and our campus seethed. He spoke on the steps of Sproul Hall before a rapt crowd of more than 7,000 people. The minister and civil rights leader told students, ”You, in a real sense, have been the conscience of the academic community and our nation.”

Berkeley’s student union was renamed after King in 1985, after petitioning by the late Ronnie Stevenson, an early Black Panther Party member, Berkeley alum, and staff member. A historic photograph of King taken by the late Helen Nestor hangs in the building.   

“It was a warm and special feeling to photograph him,” said Nestor, who was allowed to photograph King at close range because of her disability. “The students were very charged up and very much with Dr. King.”

Listen to King's 1967 speech at UC Berkeley.

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The Big C on Charter Hill

Give me a (concrete) C!

On our rugged eastern foothills,
Stands our symbol clear and bold, 
Big C means to fight and strive
And win for blue and gold.

— Excerpt from the song “Big C,” written in 1913 by Harold P. Williams and N. Loyall McLaren

Trustees from the College of California at Founders Rock, 1860

Charter Day: A university is born

The University of California began on March 23, 1868, when Gov. Henry Haight signed an act catalyzing the audacious idea that California should have a great public university — one that would serve equally the children of immigrants and settlers, landowners and industrial barons.

Cal's emblem and colors

Cal’s blue, gold, and bear

The university colors of blue and gold were chosen in 1873 by a committee of representatives from each class. Blue was considered because it reflected the sky, student cadet uniforms, and Yale, from which many of the university’s founders and early administrators had graduated.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain finds a home at Berkeley

If Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, had lived today, his nonstop outpouring of observations on American life might fit neatly on a medium-size hard drive.

David Blackwell

David Blackwell: A trailblazing statistician

“He had this great talent for making things appear simple. … That is the ultimate best thing in mathematics, if you have an insight that something seemingly complicated is really simple, but simple after the fact.”