Mission Statement and History - About Max Scherr - The Barb Bows Out

Mission Statement | The Berkeley Barb celebrates the spirit, politics, and art of the Sixties.

History | On August 13, 1965 Max Scherr launched the Berkeley Barb, one of the earliest and most influential underground newspapers to serve the civil rights, anti-war, and countercultural movements. Scherr, a hands-on publisher, relied on a mostly young, Leftist staff, which helped produce and sell the Barb. For 15 years the Barb, as its name suggests, critiqued and needled the “establishment” becoming a voice for a generation looking to change the world.

From 1965 to 1980, the Barb mixed radical politics with psychedelic art, guerrilla comics, local happenings, opinions, reviews, advice, personal ads, and frequent calls to protest from radicalized Black, Latino, Gay, and other grassroots communities. It offered its readers a stark alternative to the traditional mainstream press. A nexus between free speech, politically articulated by the Free Speech Movement, and the Sexual Revolution, the Barb energetically expressed the hitherto restrained passions of the counterculture and the emerging New Left.

Eventually challenged by internal politics and a legendary staff rebellion, the legacy of the Berkeley Barb is both a testament to the vitality of citizen journalism, and a cautionary tale of idealism undone by personal conflicts and emerging political realities.

This site was created to celebrate the history of the Berkeley Barb, and is dedicated to the principles of free speech, bold inquiry, and respectful dialogue, and it provides for the first time a digital archive of the Barb’s unique record of the Sixties and Seventies. This site hopes to reflect the importance of free speech, artistic exploration, and civil rights movements of all kinds. In memory of Max Scherr, and in honor of the Barb’s staff and contributors - and everyone around the world who speaks for tolerance, freedom, and justice – this site honors critical inquiry and fearless critiques of establishment politics.

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