The future of People’s Park, built in 1969 in a groundswell of radical political activism, may be in limbo but it has made it another year. 

It’s been an eventful 54th year at the park, lush after heavy rains but with dozens of fewer trees than last summer, when UC Berkeley cut down redwoods and palms in August as it prepared to build a 1,200-bed student housing project. 

Activists, old and new, forced Cal to stop work on the project through protests and court actions. People’s Park activists secured a recent court victory, but Cal plans to push its case forward through the state Supreme Court

On Sunday, many speeches and performances were said in memory of Michael Delacour, one of the park’s founders, who died in March at 85 and had been a regular until last year at rallies to save the park. East Bay Food Not Bombs, a volunteer-run collective that regularly serves meals at the park, prepared a chocolate sheet cake with his name on it. 

The event brought together people from different organizations, including the People’s Park Council and People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group, one of the groups going to court against the university, to homeless rights advocates and longtime supporters who traveled from afar to attend the celebrations. 

In the week leading up to the anniversary, activists and community members refurbished the stage, which had deteriorated due to constant use and an unusually wet winter. The day was filled with poetry, music and speeches from early morning until sunset.

Andrea Pritchett, a musician, BUSD middle school teacher and community organizer, sings at the People’s Park on Sunday, April 23, 2023. People’s Park supporters and community members celebrated the 54th anniversary of the park with a day of music, speeches and poetry. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
People’s Park supporters and community members celebrated the 54th anniversary of the creation of the park with a day of speeches, poetry and music. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
East Bay Food No Bombs served a hot meal and a chocolate cake dedicated to Michael Delacour, a founding member of the park who died in March. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
A man dances on top of the construction machinery left behind by UC Berkeley in August 2022. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
People’s Park celebrates its 54th anniversary with music, speeches and food in a day-long event. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
Volunteers sold painted T-shirts with the People’s Park logo to raise funds on Sunday, April 23, 2023. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
People listen to music as the People’s Park 54th anniversary celebration winds down Sunday, April 23, 2023. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight
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Ximena Natera is Berkeleyside’s photojournalist. Her position is a partnership with Report for America and CatchLight. Born and raised in Mexico City, Natera is a founding member of Pie de Pagina, an...