The Free Speech Movement

Don't you just love that? In truth, I don't know much about the Free Speech Movement beyond the basics: Mario Savio and other students who had worked on civil rights campaigns in the segregated South came back to school at Berkeley and brought the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement with them – this time advocating for everyone's basic rights to free expression. I'm not one for hero worship, and I know that Mario Savio was just a part of a large movement, but I love listening to him here because he fucking means what he's saying. There's nothing rehearsed or rehashed about that speech. It's from the heart, 100%. I love that passion. I love that kind of need.

The internet's got a lot of resources about the FSM. Notably, the Bacroft library at UC Berkeley has a pile of documents online as part of their Free Speech Movement Digital Archive. They link to transcriptions of all kinds of related original documents (like flyers, newspaper articles, relevant government paperwork, etc), and a collection of related oral histories - for example - you can read the reaction of then President of UC Berkeley Clark Kerr to the movement. (He's the guy that Mario Savio is pissed off at in the video above.) I also recommend this segment of a lovely interview with civil rights attorney and Old Left royal Robert Treuhaft who represented the FSM, and got booked with the activists during what turned out to be the largest mass arrest of students in this country's history.

Savio.org is the site that represents a fund established in Mario's honor which awards young activists, and also pays for annual lectures in his name. This year's lecture is coming up tomorrow! Angela Davis will be speaking about "Prisons, Democracy, and Empire". (I love listening to Angela, not just because she's one of the smartest people ever, but also because she thinks that history is important, and historical context is so often incorporated into what she has to say.)

Free Speech Movement Archives includes a number of nice overviews, timelines, etc that help to summarize the movement. From that site I found a link to this little photo gallery from Ron Enfield who was chief photographer for the Daily Californian at the time that the movement was active.

Of course, free expression is still an issue. It's always an issue. The Cal Disorientation Guide has this to say about our current rights to free speech on the Cal campus. Enjoy the links folks, while we still get to read 'em.


judy j said...

i didn't catch angela's speech; did you?

Bay Radical said...

Na, I'm lucky if I leave my house after 6 pm. But she is speaking again tonight at Sister Comrade. Does that woman ever sleep?!

judy j said...

i dunno if she does sleep, but here she is in London.

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