Free Speech Movement

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Memorial to the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley

The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a student protest which took place during the 1964–1965 academic year on the campus of the University of California under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others. In protests unprecedented in this scope at the time, students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom.

Quotes[edit]

  • Now, there are at least two ways in which sit-ins and civil disobedience and whatever -- least two major ways in which it can occur. One, when a law exists, is promulgated, which is totally unacceptable to people and they violate it again and again and again till it's rescinded, appealed. Alright, but there's another way. There's another way. Sometimes, the form of the law is such as to render impossible its effective violation -- as a method to have it repealed. Sometimes, the grievances of people are more -- extend more -- to more than just the law, extend to a whole mode of arbitrary power, a whole mode of arbitrary exercise of arbitrary power. And that's what we have here. We have an autocracy which -- which runs this university.
    • Mario Savio, "Sit-in Address on the Steps of Sproul Hall," December 2, 1964, The University of California at Berkeley, republished at americanrhetoric.com; Also republished at Robert Cohen (2009) Freedom's Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s. p. 327
  • Well I ask you to consider -- if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the Board of Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I tell you something -- the faculty are a bunch of employees and we're the raw material! But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be -- have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean -- Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings!

    And that -- that brings me to the second mode of civil disobedience. 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, "Sit-in Address on the Steps of Sproul Hall," December 2, 1964, The University of California at Berkeley, republished at americanrhetoric.com; Also republished at Robert Cohen (2009) Freedom's Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s. p. 327
  • We have a saying in the movement that we don’t trust anybody over 30.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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