I was a senior in High School the fall of the Berkeley Free speech Movement.
I wasn’t expecting to go to college due to poverty but I was already committed to the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Nuke Movement>
I was captivated by the courage of the students who stood up to the power of the University and the Police that fall of 1964.
That winter I would go on to win a New York State Regents Scholarship. I was surprised as were my counselors, who frantically rushed to find a school with in the SUNY system that would accept me.
I went to Cortland State, sight unseen.
That spring the war in Vietnam escalated to the point where SDS had led a national demonstration in Washington.
I arrived at Cortland, which was a jock school. Fortunately it was close to Cornell and I went there for my introduction to the student movement.
Politics and other things took a higher priority in my life at that point than classes.
I deliberately failed out and by late 1967 I was in the Bay Area, the Haight Ashbury.
In 1968 after participating in two Berkeley riots and several SF riots my collective moved to Berkeley.
Berkeley and its radicalism helped shape my life.
From The Daily Cal: http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/15/lost-and-found-mario-savio%E2%80%99s-reflections/
Lost and found: Mario Savio’s reflections
By Robert Cohen | Special To The Daily Cal
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
“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 … and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears … and 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!” These words, from Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio’s historic speech outside Sproul Hall just before that movement’s culminating sit-in on Dec. 2, 1964, are among the most famous uttered by any campus radical in that decade of student revolt. But while this speech and the mass sit-in it helped inspire at Sproul Hall have been well remembered (and are discussed in many history books), other Savio words from this same critical point in the FSM’s history were lost for decades and have only come to light this September with the discovery of an important Savio letter.
The lost letter was penned by Savio on Dec. 4, 1964, from Santa Rita Prison, where he and hundreds of students had been sent after being arrested for nonviolently sitting-in at Sproul Hall. The letter, which Savio had sent (or intended to send) to his parents, brother and grandmother, was discovered by Barbara Stack as part of a project — funded by FSM veteran Thom Irwin of the Free Speech Movement Archive — to gather and inventory the papers of FSM activists.
Savio’s letter from Santa Rita sheds new light on his mood and thoughts in the wake of the police invasion of the campus, which ended the Sproul sit-in via the largest mass arrest in California history. The letter evokes the special meaning of being jailed for an act of civil disobedience. Unlike conventional arrests, where people are caught committing a crime that that they sought to conceal, the activist arrested for sitting-in courted arrest by defying the law publicly in an act of conscience, seeking to air a political grievance and promote a lofty cause.
Continue reading at: http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/15/lost-and-found-mario-savio%E2%80%99s-reflections/
The Best Possible Memorial for Mario Savio
Occupy Cal Makes Occupy History at Berkeley
From The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/occupy-cal-makes-occupy-history-at-berkeley/248555/#
Nov 16 2011
After their tents were pulled by the university, UC Berkeley students turned the school’s celebration of a ’60s icon into massive Occupy meeting
Mario Savio was a UC Berkeley student in the ’60s and a key member of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. He’s become an activist icon; Mario Savio Youth Activist awards are given out by his memorial fund. By the ’90s, the steps of Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus where he gave his now famous “put your bodies upon the gears” speech were renamed the Mario Savio Steps. It was there last Wednesday that police raided an hours-old Occupy Cal protest and pounded student activists with batons. Yes, the chancellor of the university that celebrates Savio in its brochures, Robert J. Birgeneau, waited mere minutes before setting in motion a response that saw students beaten on the very steps bearing Savio’s name … just for setting up tents.
As the massive Occupy crackdown unfolded nationally, students facing yet another tuition hike — in a UC system that has seen its tuition triple in 10 years — took note and took to organizing.
In less than a week the campus had a general strike. Tuesday most classes were cancelled. And it just so happened to be the day the annual event Mario Savio memorial at Sproul Hall was going to take place. Which in turn led to the largest General Assembly (GA) in the history of the Occupy movement.
An amazing coincidence. One of those historical ironies that should make the school administration cringe indefinitely.
Some 4,000 (if you were to be really conservative) participated in a massive direct democracy meeting, now commonly referred to as the GA. The sea of students was tutored in the now identifiable consensus hand signs used by the movement. The facilitators laid out the ground rules: They were going to vote on whether or not to bring back the tents and set up an Occupation on campus. Yes, it was against the rules. Would they all (80 percent anyway) agree this was the right course of action? The GA attendees broke up into groups of 20 to discuss. That’s right: 4,000 people broke up into groups of 20 with at least three helicopters hovering just above to discuss the merits of the action. And then the facilitators clarified: just because you vote “yes” doesn’t mean you’re obligated to sleep there.
Continue reading at: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/occupy-cal-makes-occupy-history-at-berkeley/248555/#