Mario Savio was an incendiary student leader of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s, a protest movement also againsted the Vietnam War. In the 1960s, Savio, a fiery, inspiring orator whose father was a machine punch operator, was an adversary of Clark Kerr, the University of California president, who referred to the university as a factory and dismissed the Free Speech Movement.
Mario Savio is remembered for the words he spoke on Dec. 2, 1964, in front of Berkeley's University's building, during proests The police arrested 800 of the protesters in what was the largest mass arrest in California history. Savio became a member of the executive committee of the Free Speech Movement, an organization representing a score of civil rights and political groups at Berkeley. At a news conference after the Dec. 2 action, Savio said it had been the most successful student strike in American history, with only 17 percent or 18 percent of the students attending classes.
*I am not a political person. My involvement in the Free Speech Movement is religious and moral... I don't know what made me get up and give that first speech. I only know I had to. What was it Kierkegaard said about free acts? They're the ones that, looking back, you realize you couldn't help doing.
*You can't disobey the rules every time you disapprove. However, when you're considering something that constitutes an extreme abridgement of your rights, conscience is the court of last resort.
*Freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is. If you cannot speak... I mean, that's what marks us off. That's what marks us off from the stones and the stars. You can speak freely. It is almost impossible for me to describe. It is the thing that marks us as just below the angels. I don't want to push this beyond where it should be pushed, but I feel it.
* The "futures" and "careers" for which American students now prepare are for the most part intellectual and moral wastelands. This chrome-plated consumers' paradise would have us grow up to be well-behaved children. But an important minority of men and women coming to the front today have shown they will die rather than be standardized, replaceable, and irrelevant.* There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't 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."