Mario Savio, birth December 8, 1942; death November 6, 1996
By Julie Telgenhoff
Mario Savio, a man of brilliance, compassion, and humor, came to public notice as a spokesman for the Free Speech Movement at the University of California in 1964.
Having spent the summer as a civil rights worker in segregationist Mississippi, Savio returned to Berkeley at a time when students throughout the country were beginning to mobilize in support of racial justice and against the deepening American involvement in Vietnam.
His moral clarity, his eloquence, and his democratic style of leadership inspired thousands of fellow Berkeley students to protest university regulations which severely limited political speech and activity on campus.
The non-violent campaign culminated in the largest mass arrest in American history, drew widespread faculty support, and resulted in a revision of university rules to permit political speech and organizing. This significant advance for student freedom rapidly spread to countless other colleges and universities across the country.
Savio went on to become a teacher of mathematics, physics and philosophy at Sonoma State University, to speak and organize in favor of immigrant rights and affirmative action and against U.S.intervention in Central America.
Mario Savio died on November 6, 1996, in the middle of a struggle against university fee hikes that hurt working-class students.
He never lost his love of poetry and debate, his willingness to admit his own doubts and to listen to another’s point of view, or his deep belief that this kind of dialogue was essential to building a more just world whose fruits would be shared by all. (source)
Mario Savio on the Operation of the Machine (video speech)
“We asked the following: if President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the Regents in his telephone conversation, why didn’t he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received — from a well-meaning liberal — was the following: He said, “Would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his board of directors?” That’s the answer! Now, I ask you to consider: if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the board of directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I’ll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch of employees, and we’re the raw material! But we’re a bunch of raw material[s] that don’t mean to have any process upon us, don’t mean to be made into any product, don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!”
“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!” — Mario Savio December 2, 1964, UC Berkeley, Sproul Hall Sit-In
What small steps are you, or will you participate in to assist in stopping the machine; the same machine that is trying to poison and enslave all people of this entire world?
You are the solution, and all it takes is one person at a time to de-slave the entire world.
We are not powerless. It just takes a small amount of sacrifices, but isn’t freedom worth it?
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