HIS PARALYZING STUTTER evaporated in fountains of passionate eloquence. We were astonished. There he was, standing up on the police car, surrounded by thousands, words pouring out in a torrent. His voice hoarse, hair awry; an untidy philosophy student whose life had suddenly taken a dramatic turn. He wasn't the only one, either.

Eight of us had just been expelled from the University of California at Berkeley. Jack Weinberg had been arrested an noon sharp, and we sat around the police car for 32 hours and that's how it started. Mario spoke at all the rallies, and he said what we all meant. He made a great and stirring speech as we filed into Sproul Hall and eight hundred of us were taken to jail. We got headlines all over the world. Sixteen thousand students and professors saw policemen drag Mario off the stage of the Greek Theatre. When we finally won, he spoke for each one of us, as he had all along. Mario Savio didn't set out to be the spokesman for the Free Speech Movement, but he was good at it and without meaning to it just happened.

When you're talking about something that you did to someone who wasn't there it's different from talking with someone who was there. You can't say, "Remember when?" to somebody who wasn't there. You're not re-examining a shared memory, you're giving a history lesson. A gulf widens and you speak of other things.

In memory of Mario Savio, spokesman for the Free Speech Movement, who died on November 6, 1996.

David Lance Goines


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Reluctant Hero

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