8 December marks the birthday of Mario Savio, a key leader in the movement for student’s rights. Savio, the son of a steelworker, went to Manhattan College on a full scholarship as well as Queens College. When he finished in 1963, he spent the summer working with a Catholic relief organization in Taxco, Mexico helping to improve the sanitary problems by building facilities in the slums.
His parents had moved to Los Angeles and that autumn he enrolled at University of California, Berkeley. In March the following year he was arrested while demonstrating against the San Francisco Hotel Association for excluding blacks from non-menial jobs. After participating in ‘Freedom Summer’ in Mississippi, Savio sought to raise money for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee to assist with the ongoing efforts to register Black voters, he was unable to do so however as the campus had banned all political activity by students.
On 2 December, 1964, Savio took to the steps of Sproul Hall and gave a speech that many consider gave birth to the movement for students rights. You can see it in the video clip below….