Robert Cohen, Freedom's Orator: Maria Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s.Robert Cohen, Freedom's Orator ORATOR, practice. A good man, skillful in speaking well, and who employs a perfect eloquence to defend causes either public or private. Dupin, Profession d'Avocat, tom. 1, p. 19..
2. : Maria Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Oxford University Press 2009)
THERE ARE TWO pieces of oratory that surpass in eloquence the many iconic speeches of 1960s America. The first is Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream." The second is Free Speech Movement (FSM See finite state machine.
1. (mathematics, algorithm, theory) FSM - Finite State Machine.
2. (networking) FSM - FDDI Switching Module.
(3Com implements this device on its LAN switches). ) leader Mario Savio's "Bodies Upon the Gears." Delivered in December 1964 at the University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university located in Berkeley, California, United States. Commonly referred to as UC Berkeley, Berkeley and Cal , the speech invited Savio's fellow students to confront the impersonal, repressive machine that the university had become. He incited students to acts of nonviolent civil disobedience civil disobedience, refusal to obey a law or follow a policy believed to be unjust. Practitioners of civil disobediance basing their actions on moral right and usually employ the nonviolent technique of passive resistance in order to bring wider attention to the to challenge the limitations the university had imposed upon students' freedom of speech.
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 et all! (326)
Freedom's Orator recounts Savio's life. But this book is more than biography. Savio serves as a vehicle to examine the period he arose from and the impact that 1960s protest had on future generations. "It would be difficult to imagine," writes Cohen cohen
(Hebrew: “priest”) Jewish priest descended from Zadok (a descendant of Aaron), priest at the First Temple of Jerusalem. The biblical priesthood was hereditary and male. , "a movement and a leader that better embodied the New Left ideal of participatory democracy than the FSM and Savio." (7) Savio's rhetoric, "much like the FSM itself," says the author, "transcended ordinary politics. It embodied a mass movement rooted in moral principle." (3)
Cohen is no newcomer to this subject. An historian at New York University New York University, mainly in New York City; coeducational; chartered 1831, opened 1832 as the Univ. of the City of New York, renamed 1896. It comprises 13 schools and colleges, maintaining 4 main centers (including the Medical Center) in the city, as well as the , he is co-editor of The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s (2002). Also of note is his study of an earlier student movement, When the Old Left Was Young: Student Radicals and America's First Mass Student Movement, 1929-1941 (1997). Cohen attempts to provide a biography of Savio, while et the same time presenting a detailed account of the FSM from its birth in the fall of 1964 to its dissolution in April 1965. While highly successful in the latter, there are gaps in the former.
Born 8 December 1942 in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. to working class Italian immigrants, Savio faced many challenges. As a child he suffered a debilitating stammer. This was compounded by sexual abuse, which led to a lifelong battle with depression. Despite such hurdles he excelled in school, overcoming his speech disability, and graduating as valedictorian. His post-secondary education was unsettled. Berkeley, where he arrived in 1963, was the third college of his undergraduate career. There he joined the University Friends of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee As a focal point for student activism in the 1960s, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, popularly called Snick) spearheaded major initiatives in the Civil Rights Movement. (UFSNCC). Through UFSNCC he enlisted in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project. Returning to Berkeley that fall, he continued his activism. When the university enacted regulations prohibiting students from engaging in political speech on campus, the issue united students in opposition. The FSM was born when 4,000 students rallied on 1-2 October after police arrested civil rights activist Jack Weinberg for staffing an information table. Students prevented the police car from moving and used its roof as a stage for speakers for the next 32 hours. When the university initiated expulsion proceedings against Savio and others for their role in the October actions the FSM rallied on 2 December. Savio gave his "Bodies Upon the Gear" speech. The brilliance of the speech, notes Cohen, was in its universal transferability. (182) The machine metaphor transcended campus, local, and national realities. The contest between students and the university finally ended when the Faculty Senate voted its support of the FSM. With that, Savio resigned from the FSM's leadership and the organization voted itself out of existence. Savio eschewed further leadership roles. Following the death of his mother sometime in the 1970s he attempted suicide, resulting in a lengthy period of hospitalization. Experiencing a degree of recovery in the 1980s, he again became politically active, most significantly over the crisis in Central America. In 1996 he campaigned against a proposed student fee increase at Sonoma State University Notes
1. ^ 
2. ^ "Sonoma State Music Center Has Detractors" by Sara Lipka Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct.5, 2007
Most refreshing about Freedom's Orator is its treatment of the left. Not surprisingly given his earlier work, Cohen establishes continuity between the old and new. Several FSM leaders emerged directly out of the old left, notably Bettina Aptheker, daughter of renowned Communist historian Herbert Aptheker and herself a member of the Du Bois Club. Aptheker played a crucial role in the FSM. Cohen indicates that Communists exercised a restraining influence on the more militant elements in the FSM, Savio included. For instance, during negotiations with the university, Savio could often be "impatient, tempestuous tem·pes·tu·ous
1. Of, relating to, or resembling a tempest: tempestuous gales.
2. Tumultuous; stormy: a tempestuous relationship. and militant," whereas Aptheker was "calm and cordial." Cohen quotes Berkeley historian Kenneth Stamp, who argues that Aptheker, coming out of a Communist family "knew something about political discipline." (141) Also significant is Cohen's assertion that the FSM provided the spark for mass mobilization among young, white Americans during the 1960s. While many credit Students for a Democratic Society (SDS 1. (company) SDS - Scientific Data Systems.
2. (tool) SDS - Schema Definition Set. ) with this, the FSM had already captured the imaginations of young Americans before SDS attracted national attention in the spring of 1965.
Cohen employs a range of sources. He makes extensive use of Savio's personal papers, drawing heavily upon his unpublished autobiography. He also uses the FBI files on both Savio and the FSM. In addition to the many interviews he conducted, Cohen relies on materials available through the Free Speech Movement Oral History Project and draws upon interviews collected during the making of the 1990 film Berkeley in the Sixties. Conspicuously absent from the book is any discussion of Savio's highly principled rationale in refusing to participate in the film after learning that its creators had excluded Aptheker, fearing her status as an out lesbian, and possibly her former Communist affiliation, would negatively impact the narrative of the film.
Cohen is to be commended for his detailed account of the FSM, which makes up roughly a third of the book. The other two thirds are evenly divided between telling the rest of Savio's life story and an appendix containing a collection of his speeches. But several questions are left unanswered regarding Savio's biography. For instance, it was the civil rights movement that was the engine behind the FSM, yet no mention is made of the earlier movement and its impact on Savio in the period prior to 1960. Also missing is much of Savio's life post-FSM. Other than giving a speech at the 1965 Berkeley Vietnam Day Teach-In, little is
said about Savio's relationship with the antiwar movement. Also lacking is any substantial accounting of his life during the 1970s. It would have been helpful, too, to have seen more on Savio's involvement with the Central America solidarity movement. Other than a single speech and his unsuccessful proposal to initiate a Freedom Summer-style Central America project, not much is said about Savio's involvement with this movement.
Still, Freedom's Orator is an essential book for historians of America in the 1960s and beyond. It is well written, engaging the reader in the many struggles Savio himself engaged in. Savio's participation in the civil rights movement prior to his emergence as a leader of the FSM highlights the influence of the African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. freedom struggle on subsequent movements. His participation in the FSM shows that organization's impact on the development of the new left and antiwar movements. And his activism in later decades shows the continuity of his and others' commitment to making the world a better place. Whether campaigning for peace and justice in Mississippi, Berkeley, Vietnam, Central America or Sonoma State University, Savio's lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power has earned him the title that Cohen has bestowed upon him: freedom's orator.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University