“To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is. That’s what marks us off from the stones and the stars. You can speak freely. It is really the thing that marks us as just below the angels.” Mario Savio, 1994.

Mario Savio was one of the key members of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the 1960’s. He rose to prominence after an address given at Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley on December 2nd, 1964, where he urged students that, “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.” Watch the video below.

Savio went on to become a teacher of mathematics, physics, and philosophy at Sonoma State University, to speak and organize in favor of immigrant rights and affirmative action and against U.S. intervention in Central America.

The Mario Savio Memorial Lecture and Young Activist Award were created:
-To honor the memory of Mario Savio and the spirit of moral courage and vision which he and countless other activists of his generation exemplified;
-To promote the values that Mario Savio struggled to advance throughout his life: human rights, social justice, and freedom of expression;
-To provide a forum where young people can connect with older activists to understand their common ideals and find inspiration and nourishment for activism today;
-To recognize and encourage young activists engaged in the struggle to build a more humane and just society.

The Mario Savio Young Activist award, which carries a cash prize of $6000, is presented each year to a young person (or persons) with a deep commitment to human rights and social justice and a proven ability to transform this commitment into effective action. The recipients should have demonstrated leadership ability, creativity, and integrity. The cash award is divided equally between the individual recipient and an organization of his/her choosing. Nominations are due by June 30th by emailing savio at sonic dot net.