Sproul Hall Sit-In Address – Mario Savio (1964)

1946-1989, Authority, Date, Defining the Enemy, Disruptive Spaces, Institutions, Occupation, Students, Subjectives of Refusal, Tactics of Disruption, The Bourgeoisie

On December 2, 1964, Mario Savio, an activist and key member of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, gave an address on University of California, Berkely’s campus at the Sproul Hall sit-in. Many students, including Savio, had spent the previous summer in Mississippi, participating in what became known as the “Freedom Summer” and helping to register Black sharecroppers to vote. These students then began fighting for the necessity of Free Speech on college campuses. In this address, Savio detailed two different ways in which civil disobedience can occur and previewed the direct actions that were about to take place in the storming of Sproul Hall to fight against the restrictions on political speech and actions on campus.

“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; 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!”

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