Mario Savio’s “Place Your Bodies Upon the Gears” Speech

American Rhetoric has the transcript and audio:

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!!

That doesn’t mean — I know it will be interpreted to mean, unfortunately, by the bigots who run The Examiner, for example — That doesn’t mean that you have to break anything. One thousand people sitting down some place, not letting anybody by, not [letting] anything happen, can stop any machine, including this machine! And it will stop!!


Wikipedia’s entry for Mario Savio:

The son of a Sicilian born factory worker, Savio grew up in New York City, went to a public high school (Martin Van Buren High) in Queens, and attended Manhattan College and Queens College before enrolling at the University of California, Berkeley as a philosophy major in 1963. In March of the following year, he was arrested for demonstrating against the San Francisco Hotel Association for excluding blacks from non-menial jobs; in the summer, he traveled to Mississippi as a civil rights worker, helping African Americans register to vote.

Savio rose to prominence as a leader of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, delivering a fiery speech in Sproul Plaza on December 3, 1964. But Savio was not a fame-seeker and took modest jobs for twenty years before returning to college in the 1980s, this time at San Francisco State University, where he received a summa cum laude bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in physics.

(Thanks PVC)


And of course, YouTube has the video

(Thanks Aguirre for kicking me in the head to search for the vid)