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Posts tagged Mario Savio

Unless you are free

Chris Clarke’s post on yesterday’s political developments is very good and very important. Something I hope to have something intelligent to say about later. For right now, though, I wanted to thank Chris for leading me to something I’ve been hoping to find for for a while now. Specifically, an online recording of Mario Savio‘s speech on the steps of Sproul Hall, during his time in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. After the speech, Savio joined about 800 people from the assembled crowd to face arrest in a nonviolent sit-in against the arbitrary arrest of their fellow student Jack Weinberg:

An online copy of this recording of the 2 December 1964 speech is, I’m glad to say, now available through YouTube. Here is the best remembered part of what he said:

We were told 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 his Board of Directors? That’s the answer. Well 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 is in fact the manager, then I’ll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch fo employees, and we’re the raw materials! But we’re a bunch of raw materials who 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 government–be they industry–be they organized labor–be they anyone. We’re human beings!

There’s 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 and the people who own it that unless you are free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

— Mario Savio (December 2, 1964), on the steps of Sproul Hall, at the University of California at Berkeley

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