The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings That Changed America

The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings That Changed America

The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings That Changed America

The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings That Changed America

Synopsis

The Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, California, was pivotal in shaping 1960s America. Led by Mario Savio and other young veterans of the civil rights movement, student activists organized what was to that point the most tumultuous student rebellion in American history. Mass sit-ins, a nonviolent blockade around a police car, occupations of the campus administration building, and a student strike united thousands of students to champion the right of students to free speech and unrestricted political advocacy on campus.

This compendium of influential speeches and previously unknown writings offers insight into and perspective on the disruptive yet nonviolent civil disobedience tactics used by Savio. The Essential Mario Savio is the perfect introduction to an American icon and to one of the most important social movements of the post-war period in the United States.

Excerpt

Tom Hayden

It is a worthy time to study and treasure the eloquent speeches of Mario Savio, “freedom’s orator,” as the historian Robert Cohen rightly calls him.

I didn’t know Mario well, mainly because of our separate geographic orbits, but our paths were intertwined. As a student editor from Ann Arbor, I hitchhiked to Berkeley in summer 1960, where I stayed in an apartment belonging to activists from SLATE, the campus political party that was demanding a voice for students stifled by university paternalism. SLATE activists were among those hosed down the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall after protesting the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that spring. The FBI opened a file on me for simply writing an editorial in the Michigan Daily supporting the student critics. I remember interviewing the aptly named Alex Sherriffs, the aggressive UC vice chancellor who wanted to shut down the tiny Bancroft strip where I was first leafleted by the friendly student who found me a place to stay. In a memo at the time, Sherriffs called the SLATE activists “office seekers and publicity hounds … misfits, malcontents and other politically-oriented individuals who do not conform to the normal political activity in the university community.” My kind of people.

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