Mario Savio

In October 1964 — after a student had been arrested for setting up an an unauthorized table on campus — Savio grabbed the public’s attention when he climbed atop a police car to defend free speech at UC Berkeley. As students nationwide were organizing around racial justice and America’s intensifying involvement in Vietnam, Savio inspired thousands of fellow students to protest limitations on political speech — spawning the Free Speech Movement. In one speech, he famously compared the administration to a machine: You’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels … And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it … that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” Faculty voted to drop the restrictions after nearly 800 protesters were arrested on Dec. 2, 1964. Savio taught at Sonoma State University and continued to fight for justice until his death in 1996.


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