The answer to this question lies in the movie "Operation Abolition".
"Operation Abolition" was a movie produced by the United States Congress House Un-American Activities Committee in 1960. Congress had passed a regulation REQUIRING all high school students enrolled in any public high school in the United States of America to see this movie.
Since I was a student at E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, I was required to see this movie. It was shown during my economics class, taught by Ralph Racer.
This movie was about the hearings held by the House Un-American Activities Committee (also known as HUAC) in the Spring of 1960. Demonstrators mobbed San Francisco City Hall and the movie showed the San Francisco Police with fire hoses, hosing down the students, sending them sliding down the stairways and out onto the streets and then being dragged off to jail. The announcer said that all these of demonstrators were Communists, Communist sympathizers or Communists-dupes.
The scene then shifted to inside the hearing room. As the witnesses were led in one-by-one, the announcer over and over again stated:
"This is so-and-so. He is one of the most brilliant college students of mathematics in the entire United States of America. He is a student at the University of California at Berkeley and he is a Communist !!!"
After this person had been seated at the witness table, he was asked the following question:
"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?"
The answer was: "I decline to answer that question for reasons that it might incriminate me."
After that, witness was led away, and the next witness was brought in. The announcer said:
"This is so-and-so. He is one of the most brilliant college students of physics in the entire United States. He is a student at the University of California at Berkeley and he is a Communist !!!"
Again, this process was repeated. Again he was asked if he was a Communist and again he refused to answer this question.
This process continued. Student after student was led in. Each time, he was introduced as one of the most brilliant students of either math or physics in the entire United States of America. Each was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. Each was asked if he was a Communist and each declined to answer.
Here I was, an innocent and impressionable youth, 16 years old, sitting in a high school classroom in Lynchburg Virginia, watching this movie. The message this movie intended to convey was that this was a Communist threat, involving the most brilliant students of math and physics in the entire United States of America, capable of making a nuclear bomb, and all of them were Communists.
However, that was not the effect the movie had on me. I suddenly decided that the University of California at Berkeley was the place for me. It was not because the students were all Communists. I figured that I could make up my own mind about this. It was because these students were all, according to the movie, the most brilliant students of math and physics in the entire United States.
I intended to become a math and physics major and, since all the most brilliant students of math and physics were at the University of California at Berkeley, that was where I had to go.
I scored 800 on my math college boards. I applied to Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Dartmouth. I was rejected by all of them because my grades were low, in spite of my high test scores. I applied to the University of Virginia in nearby Charlottesville and, amazingly, I was accepted in only three days. I decided that any university that would accept me in only three days must be desperate and not very good. (They seemed to have heard of me already.)
At almost the last moment, I checked the admission requirements at the University of California at Berkeley. I discovered to my amazement that they had a late deadline. My application only had to be in by August 15, whereas most other schools required prospective students to apply by March. Also, Berkeley had a set formula for admission. No interviews. No essays to write about why I really want to go to Berkeley. Instead, for an out-of-state student such as me to get in, I needed to be in the top 50% of my class (which I was barely) and to average more than 600 on my College Board tests (which I exceeded by a wide margin).
I got my application in just a few days before the August 15 deadline. My acceptance came back not much more than a week later, as I had met the fixed criteria.
What remained was for me to convince my mother to let me go. After a week of constant lobbying, she finally agreed. For years after, my mother, who was a child psychiatrist, always said that the biggest mistake she ever made in her life was to let me go to Berkeley. I never told her this, but if she had not agreed, I would have run away from home and gone there anyway, as the tuition at that time was an amazingly low $81 per semester.
After hitch-hiking across the country, which took me 81 hours, I arrived in Berkeley on exactly two days after my 18th birthday. I had thought that I was a really smart fellow. When I got to Berkeley, I quickly learned that there were an awful lot of people an awful lot smarter than I was. I had been a big fish in a small pond. Now, I was a small fish in a big lake. I was quickly floored by the competition, but that was what I had asked for, after all.
It did not take long before I was able to become one of the main rebel-rousers out there.
The rest is history. Berkeley would never be the same again.
Here are links about "Operation Abolition":