1964 December 2

Free Speech Movement Historic Moment: Mario Savio Denounces “The System”


In what was probably the most dramatic moment in the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, student leader Mario Savio gave a speech denouncing “the system.” The speech on this day immediately became one of the most famous statements of the emerging counterculture in 1960s America (see an excerpt below). The next day, police arrested 773 people for a sit-in demonstration on campus. More than 10,000 students went on strike, shutting down the university. For other key moments in the Free Speech Movement, go to September 16, 1964; October 1, 1964.

Savio: “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Read his famous speech: http://www.fsm-a.org/stacks/mario/mario_speech.html

Read the biography of Savio: Robert Cohen, Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s (2009)

See and hear Savio’s famous speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcx9BJRadfw

Read: David Lance Goines, The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960s (1993)

Read Mario Savio’s FBI File: http://vault.fbi.gov/mario-savio

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