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Put Your Body on the Gears: In the Words of Mario Savio

18 Aug
Mario Savio Free Speech Movement 1964

Mario Savio and members of the Free Speech Movement, circa 1964
image from npr.org


My last post delved into the life of Mario Savio, an inspirational, but oft-overlooked figure of the 1960s. Below, I’ll explore five quotes by and about Mario Savio that stood out to me while reading Seth Rosenfeld’s Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power. Continue reading

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Mario Savio: The Voice of the Free Speech Movement

4 Aug
Mario Savio under arrest during his participation in the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkley, circa 1964

Mario Savio under arrest during his participation in the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkley, circa 1964
Image from chronicle.com


In between shocking exposures of unconstitutional surveillance and harassment, Seth Rosenfeld’s 2012 book, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, offers a fairly comprehensive biography of everyone from Ronald Reagan and Herbert Hoover to University of California president Clark Kerr. In fact, Rosenfeld has a habit of launching into the life story of every figure he introduces. Although this was at times tedious, it helped illuminate one of the most fascinating figures of the 1960s: Mario Savio, the UC student who helped lead the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at UC Berkley at the age of 22.

On October 1, 1964, a man named Jack Weinberg was arrested on the Berkeley campus while attempting to distribute political literature. He was put into a police car, but never made it to the station. As many as 3,000 students sat down to block the car from leaving, refusing to budge for more than 32 hours until the charges against Weinberg were dropped. During that time, students stood atop the car to advocate for the right to free speech on campus. Mario Savio was one of them. Continue reading