One to watch - One to watch – a famous speech delivered by activist Mario Savio in 1964

One to watch – a famous speech delivered by activist Mario Savio in 1964

Who is Mario Savio?

Who is Mario Savio - One to watch – a famous speech delivered by activist Mario Savio in 1964

Mario Savio is was a well known American activist and one of the top members of the “Berkley Free Speech Movement”.  His passionate speeches resounded through many a Californian university hall as he advocated for many causes such as helping to gain voting rights for African Americans, taught at black children in McComb, Mississippi before returning to Berkeley.  He joined the “Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” whereby he tried to raise funds for them only to find out that the university had put a ban on fundraising and political activity.  This, in turn, led many a famous quote and conversation from Mario which led him to become one of the most prominent leaders of the “Free Speech Movement” which was formed in 1964.


The famous “bodies upon the gears speech”

The famous - One to watch – a famous speech delivered by activist Mario Savio in 1964

A long-standing protest by the students of the University of California, Berkeley called the “Free Speech Movement” was started in 1964 and followed through that academic year to 1965.  Students of the university, led by Mario Savio, who at the time was a Berkley graduate student, were demanding that the universities ban on political activities is lifted and that their right to academic freedom and free speck be recognized and acknowledged by the university.

On the 2nd December 1964, upon the steps of Sprout Hall, at the University of California, Berkley, Mario Savio delivered his speech “bodies upon gears” (also known as the operation of the machine) that became a turning point for the movement in the lifting of various bans and giving rise to freedom of speech for all.  The speech highlighted how over the years the strength of movements such as the “Free Speech Movement” were made stronger by the overreactions of the 1% suppressing free speech!

For his efforts, Mario Savio became a person of interest to the FBI and was designated by them to be detained without judicial warrant in any national emergency event.  He was also surveilled and continuously hounded by the FBI, spent time in prison for his passion but through it all, he never gave up on what he believed in and continued to fight the good fight for the good of all American students.



The “Free Speech Movement” was associated with the “New Lift”, “American Civil Rights Movement” and the “Anti-Vietnam War Movement”, these movements were the foundations that brought about a lot of changes in values and political views for the following generations of the general public, students and university administrators alike throughout the USA.


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