Mario Savio & the Berkeley Free Speech Movement


On this day in history, Mario Savio delivered his famous “Bodies Upon the Gears” speech at UC Berkeley as part of the campus Free Speech Movement. At the time political activity, other than by the official Democratic and Republican clubs, was an arrestable offense on university grounds and faculty were required to sign a loyalty oath. On 2 December 1964 in an attempt to restart negotiations with the administration, thousands of students began a sit-in at Sproul Hall resulting in the mass arrest of roughly 800 students. Berkeley brought charges against the main organizers, and Savio became the victim of relentless FBI harassment. However, after the university chancellor was replaced, many of the initial demands of the movement were met. This mass civil disobedience campaign laid the groundwork for much of the campus activism in the United States during the 1960s. Full text of Savio’s speech here.