1963 — N. Calif. Party Chairman Mickey Lima is the first Communist to speak on the UC Berkeley campus after the speaker ban is lifted
UC President Robert Gordon Sproul retired in 1958, as the fierce anti-Communism which he embraced was receding. As a result of these and other factors, the so-called Speaker Ban began to be less strictly enforced. In March of 1961 SLATE sponsored a talk by Frank Wilkinson at Berkeley. The House Un-American Activities Committee had called him a Communist organizer but he had neither admitted nor denied an affiliation. When he twice refused to testify at HUAC hearings, he was sentenced to one year in prison for contempt of Congress.
President Sproul would not have allowed Wilkinson to speak on campus, but President Kerr refused to cancel his appearance. Nonetheless, publicly acknowledged Communists continued to be refused a podium on the campus. After continued pressure from Kerr and Governor Pat Brown, the Regents quietly admitted defeat and abolished the Speaker Ban on June 21, 1963. A month later, on July 23, 1963, Northern California Chairman Mickey Lima, a solid but undramatic orator, spoke before 1,400 students in Sproul Hall.
The audience was respectful, if not enthusiastic, but they sensed the importance of the moment. It was left to the 1964 activists of the FSM to bring free speech to the students and their organizations.
Mickey Lima, the first live, in-the-flesh Communist Party representative to speak at UC Berkeley.