The American Bear


There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively 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. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

Mario Savio, 1964

"Subversives": How the FBI Fought the 1960s Student Movement and Aided Reagan’s Rise to Power

SETH ROSENFELD: …Mario actually had a very debilitating stutter when speaking in small groups of people. But when he was impassioned and speaking against what he believed was injustice, he spoke with divine fire. And that speech is an example of that. And people who were in that audience in the crowd on Sproul Plaza that day have said that that speech sent shivers down their backs. He moved people to participate. And as a result of his speech and all the work that the Free Speech Movement had done, more than a thousand people streamed into Sproul Hall and staged what was the nation’s largest sit-in to date, overnight, more than 800 people arrested the next day. And this was shocking that students would engage in this kind of behavior. At that time in our history, most campuses were characterized by a kind of complacency and conformity. The Free Speech Movement was a major break from that, and it was very shocking to people, particularly J. Edgar Hoover.