Freedoms’ Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s
The Berkeley Free Speech Movement, which took place in 1964, began an era of student protest and activism, following on from the earlier struggles of the civil-rights movement, and leading up to the protests against the Vietnam war. In the coming year the Berkeley campus will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this movement. This year’s selection for the On the Same Page program is Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s by Robert Cohen, a gripping account of the Free Speech Movement and the role of the student leader Mario Savio in that movement. Growing up in a working-class Catholic family, Savio struggled with a stammer, but he overcame his stammer to become a passionate and eloquent orator who led the Free Speech Movement in its struggle for political and academic freedom. Cohen tells the story of how Savio became a committed activist as the result of his experiences registering black voters in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964, and goes on to give a blow-by-blow account of the Free Speech Movement, its struggles and its final success. Cohen’s book is both a biography of a remarkable individual and an account of a pivotal moment in Berkeley’s history.
Your 2014-15 On the Same Page program focuses on the Free Speech Movement, whose 50th anniversary we will celebrate this fall. This year’s featured author is Robert Cohen, whose new book Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) tells the compelling story of a new student–like you–who changed the course of history not only at Berkeley but across the nation. This work was chosen to appeal to students–and faculty–from across the disciplines. What could be more intriguing than this pivotal moment in our history?
We ask that you read Freedom’s Orator this summer, and prepare yourself to engage actively with the theme once you arrive on campus. The On the Same Page program is organizing several occasions for you to engage with the theme, including a public lecture by the author, Robert Cohen, a series of panel events on such topics as Music and Protest, Voter Suppression, and Inequality, and even a concert by the legendary Mavis Staples, who provided the soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement, where Mario Savio first participated as an activist.
Because the 50th anniversary of the FSM is so important, many campus units and programs besides On the Same Page will be organizing events, such as a rally, a teach-in, a musical, and the annual Savio lecture. The campus has its own FSM@50 webpage where you will find an FSM timeline and other resources.
Welcome to Berkeley, and welcome to the campus-wide celebration of this important milestone. You will be best prepared to participate fully if you read Freedom’s Orator over the summer, before coming to Cal.
Robert Cohen is a professor of history and social studies at New York University, whose scholarship focuses on social protest, youth, and higher education in-twentieth century America. Much of his scholarship has explored the history of student movements in the United States, beginning with When the Old Left Was Young: Student Radicals and America’s First Mass Student Movement, 1929-1941 (Oxford University Press: 1993), which originated as his doctoral dissertation in Cal’s history department. He has published more books on the Free Speech Movement than any other historian, including The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s (University of California Press, 2002), co-edited with Reginald Zelnik,Freedoms’ Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s (Oxford University Press: 2009), and The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings That Changed America (University of California Press, 2014). He also has a strong interest in African American history and in student politics on both sides of the color line in the Jim Crow South. In this area he has published Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2013) co-edited with David J. Snyder, and articles on white student resistance to the desegregation of the University of Georgia in 1961. He is currently editing for publication Howard Zinn’s Spelman College diary, which offers an intimate look at African American student activism in Atlanta in 1963. Cohen has served as a consultant for historical films, most recently the documentary 1964 series, which aired on PBS’ American Experience series this year.
News and Resources
A video excerpt from American Experience: 1964. Courtesy of the WGBH Educational Foundation.
FSM Digital Archive
The Free Speech Movement Digital Archive was the winning entry in a hackathon, called HackFSM, co-sponsored by the Bancroft Library and and Digital Humanities @ Berkeley. Students were invited to develop a compelling user interface to the Bancroft’s Free Speech Movement Digital Archive, a large trove of texts, images and audio recordings that the Bancroft digitized and published to the Web in the mid-1990s. The winning team: Cassie Xiong, Kevin Casey, Craig Hiller, and Alice J.Q. Liu.
Can Students Change the World? Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s
A lecture by Robert Cohen
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
105 Stanley Hall
Who was Mario Savio and why will you be reading his biography? The Free Speech Movement and Its Legacies
Attend this interactive multimedia session during CalSO (Cal Student Orientation) to find out why Freedom’s Orator was chosen especially for your year, and to discuss the theme with a Berkeley faculty member and/or a veteran of the Free Speech Movement.
Sessions are held in 340 Moffitt Library. The entrance to 340 is outside the library, just to the left of the entrance to the Free Speech Movement Cafe. After the session, why not pick up a coffee at the FSM cafe and look at all the photos from the 1960’s?
October 8, 2014
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall
Joanna Cuevas Ingram, LatoniJustice PRLDEF
Janai Nelson, Associate Director, NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund
Daniel Tokaji, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Moderator: Professor Bertrall Ross, Berkeley Law
Inequality in National and Transnational Perspective: A conversation with Emmanuel Saez and Branko Milanovic
October 13, 2014
Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center
Moderated by Jennifer Granholm
October 30, 2014
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall
Waldo Martin (History, UCB)
Kim Nalley (jazz singer and PhD candidate in History, UCB)
Mavis Staples (Rock and Roll Hal of Fame singer, civil rights activist)
Chris Strachwitz (founder and president, Arhoolie Records)
Moderator: Mark Peterson (History, UCB)
Free Speech from the FSM to Occupy: a Constitution Day panel
September 17, 2014
Booth Auditorium, School of Law
Featuring Robert Cole, Richard Buxbaum, and Linda Lye
Moderated by Christopher Kutz
BAM/PFA Film Series
Activate Yourself: The Free Speech Movement at Fifty
September 11, 2014 – October 30, 2014
In 1964, UC Berkeley was the epicenter of the Free Speech Movement (FSM), which encouraged a generation to view political engagement as a principled right of passage. The FSM first had an impact on campus, as thousands of students rose to passionate activism, ignited by a reckless campus policy that restricted expression. But its influence soon spread beyond its ivory towers to the culture at large. The arrest of pamphleteer Jack Weinberg in Sproul Plaza, fifty years ago this October, awakened a level of activism that was unexpected, inspiring, and politically resonant. Mario Savio’s quick ascension to a police car’s roof provided a defiant image for an eloquence that bespoke the very value of speech. Activate Yourself brings together punchy, probing documentaries and feature films, most from the period, that testify to the expansive influence of the Free Speech Movement. Sons and Daughters, People’s Park, Off the Pig, Second Campaign, and others capture the urgency, the aspirations, and the ire felt by many during that still-resonating time. Of special note is Berkeley in the Sixties with its astute distillation of that turbulent decade. Members of the FSM, along with lifelong activists and scholars of the period will be present at every program. Like the Free Speech Movement with its call for action, we present this series not as an object for nostalgic study, but as an example: Don’t just watch, activate.
Steve Seid, Video Curator
Thursday, September 11, 2014
7:00 p.m. Berkeley in the Sixties
Mark Kitchell (US, 1990). Mark Kitchell in person. Special guests FSM activists FLinda Artel, Susan Druding, and Lynne Hollander Savio. More than a primer for a tumultuous decade, Kitchell’s documentary is an astute distillation of an audacious effort to reinvent the terms of citizenship, and a window into the history of Berkeley and the antiwar movement. (117 mins)
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
7:00 p.m. Pigs, Parks, and Protesters: Films by San Francisco Newsreel
San Francisco Newsreel (US, 1968–69). Special guest Bill Nichols. Hit the streets and fight the power with three incendiary documentaries from one of the nation’s most radical filmmaking collectives. Off the Pig with Oakland’s Black Panthers, follow San Francisco State on Strike, and see a different side of People’s Park. (72 mins)
Thursday, October 9, 2014
7:00 p.m. Sons and Daughters
Jerry Stoll (US, 1967). Special guests cinematographer Stephen Lighthill, antiwar activist Michael Smith, environmental journalist Gar Smith. Stoll’s formidable film tracks a two-day protest in which thousands of antiwar activists marched from the UC Berkeley campus to the Oakland Army Terminal. (98 mins)
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
7:00 p.m. Operation Abolition & The Riotmakers
Fulton Lewis III (US, 1960), Eugene Methvin (US, 1971). Special guest UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Christopher C. Kutz. Two right-wing propaganda documentaries that paint the antiwar movement a deep shade of red: Operation Abolition finds “professional communists” amid a 1960 San Francisco City Hall protest, while The Riotmakers claims “Leninoids” are behind all student activism. (70 mins)
Sunday, October 26, 2014
7:00 p.m. KPFA on the Air
Veronica Selver, Sharon Wood (US, 2000). Veronica Selver, Sharon Wood in person. Special guests KPFA alums Alan Snitow and Larry Bensky, Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar. A history of KPFA and radical radio in the US. Preceded by Norman Yonemoto and Nicholas Ursin’s Second Campaign, shot during the People’s Park protests. (76 mins)
Thursday, October 30, 2014
7:00 p.m. The Activist
Art Napoleon (US, 1969). Michael Smith in person. Activist-turned-actor Michael Smith, a member of the Oakland Seven, plays a radical opposed to the war in Vietnam in this youth-market entry, shot on the streets of Berkeley. (87 mins)
Special thanks to Mark Kitchell, Gar Smith, and Michael Smith for their generous advice; Alix Schwartz, On the Same Page, UC Berkeley College of Letters and Science; the Northern California chapter of the ACLU; and Bruce Yonemoto.
Opportunities for Activism
Not all student activism takes place on Sproul Plaza these days, and in fact the internet is an important vehicle for spreading the word about opportunities to act to change the world. On the Same Page is dedicating this space to student groups and other organizations that would like to get the word out about issues that need to be addressed, and opportunities to help effect positive change. If you have an activity (rally, phone bank, protest march, club meeting, etc.) to promote, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work with MoveOn to Elect Progressive Candidates
My name is Carla and I am an organizer with MoveOn.org’s campaign to Save the Senate. I am going to be in Berkeley for the next ten weeks, working to elect progressive candidates to the Senate and defeat candidates who stand in the way of progress. Contact me if you would like to volunteer on the campaign!
A summary of the problem: In presidential election years, progressive voters show up in droves, yet the midterm elections see much lower turnout. And while we stay home on election day, Republicans maintain a high voter turnout during these midterm elections. If the Democrats lose control of the Senate that will mean a step backward on a variety of issues that we care about like women’s rights, education reform, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, and addressing global climate change.
We can’t afford to allow what happened in 2010 to happen again this year. With 8 million members nationwide, MoveOn.org is in a unique position to leverage our people power to fight back against the billions of dollars the Koch Brother’s are spending on TV ads. We are launching a major campaign from Labor Day through Election Day to turnout progressive voters in key Senate states.
I personally, got my start as an organizer when I was a student at Colby College in 2012, I volunteered with EqualityMaine to make sure that we could pass marriage equality and we won! Working on campaigns as a student has been one of the best experiences in my life, I learned a bunch, made life-long friends, and it led to a career in organizing. Working with MoveOn this fall will give you an opportunity to get involved in the community, learn about national politics, and also build your resume and your skills.
Looking forward to meeting you soon!
Apply to Be a BUILD Literacy Mentor
Interested in making a change in the lives of local youth? Do you have Work Study? Become a BUILD mentor and help youth improve their literacy skills and reading!
Applications due: Rolling, apply as soon as possible
Apply online at: http://publicservice.berkeley.edu
Pay: $12. 50/hr through Work Study or field studies units
Contact: BUILDLiteracy@berkeley.edu or 510-642-6772
BUILD is a literacy mentoring program working to boost the reading and literacy skills of youth in Berkeley and Oakland. Mentors work in teams at their program site and each mentor is matched with 3-4 youth who they work with one-to-one in 40-45 minute reading sessions. Mentors earn $12.50/hour through Work Study or field units. If you do not have Work Study, you cannot be paid but can work for units or as a volunteer. To apply, fill out an online application at the UC Berkeley Public Service Center website at http://publicservice.berkeley.edu
UC Berkeley Alternative Breaks
Join the national movement of college students making a difference during their academic breaks. Explore a social justice issue, immerse yourself in a community, and apply your knowledge! Alternative Breaks takes teams of students to various areas throughout the Western United States on 1-2 week service learning trips, exploring the complexities of social issues by allowing students to work, eat, and live with people who are directly impacted by racism, poverty, and other injustices. Students prepare for trips through a 2-unit DECal. Financial aid is available for all trips. Participants often come away from these experiences with a new perspective on social justice not only on the trips, but also in their own communities.
Winter Trip Applications are due Sunday, September 14, 11:59pm
Spring Trip Applications are due Sunday, October 19, 11:59pm
Winter Trips include:
Food Justice (Bay Area)
Magnolia Project (New Orleans)
Urban Health (Los Angeles)
*2 weeks in Winter 2014 + Fall 2014 DECal, Wednesdays 6-8pm*
SEAL (Students for Engaged and Active Learning)
Dear Gill Tract supporters,
By uniting with a coalition of student, worker, and community organizations, and veterans of the Free Speech Movement celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their struggle, Students for Engaged and Active Learning were able to make some important short-term gains in our campaign for a Food Initiative on all 20 acres of the Gill Tract Farm!
Please check out the Press Release on our website: http://sealstudents.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/press-release-coalition-unites-to-victory-in-enduring-struggle-of-fsm/
This action was also part of a series of actions from the US Food Sovereignty Alliance!
We are excited for these short-term gains, but the administration continues to stonewall on our main demand to halt the development and engage in a student and community process for all twenty acres.
What you can do:
This is a great opportunity to share the story of our victory and encourage your contacts to sign the petition (which already has over 1,650 signatures!). There is a link with a good image you can share from our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/studentsforengagedandactivelearning
For emails, you can use and adapt our “Sample Email” resource to share our petition: http://sealstudents.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/sample-email-outreach.pdf
Join us this Sunday at the Permaculture Build at the Gill Tract Community Farm! https://www.facebook.com/events/726042290778259/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular
Our struggle to halt the development on the south is not directly connected to the beautiful work happening on this 1.5 acre parcel on the north side, but we see ourselves as a part of the ongoing legacy of Occupy the Farm and the struggle to save this land. We will be there to celebrate!
Come out to the Berkeley theatrical premiere of the Occupy the Farm film! This November 7th-14th at the UA Berkeley 7 theater at 2274 Shattuck Ave. https://www.facebook.com/events/1698666823691759/
We’re fired up, can’t take it no more! Excited for this great momentum.
Thank you for your continued support.
Students for Engaged and Active Learning