Mario Savio, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement leader who was later a Sonoma State professor, is now fittingly memorialized on the local university campus.
Lynne Hollander Savio sits beside a photo of her late husband, Mario, at the dedication of the Free Speech corner that is named for him on the Sonoma State campus.Mario Savio met his second wife, Lynne Hollander Savio, through the Free Speech Movement. As a featured speaker at the dedication of the memorial to her late husband, she offered a detailed summary of their activism, which neither began nor ended with the Spoul Plaza speech. While that was an important moment, she cited a later date, when UC Berkeley leaders invited the campus community to the Greek Theater to announce a new unilateral "compromise" which was vehemently rejected by the crowd.
Savio was well aware of the notoriety he had earned in the 1960s, though he had backed away from the public eye within a few years of gaining it. On the occaions when it came up during his SSU years, Elaine Sundberg told the dedication crowd on Thursday, Mario would gently make light of it.
Savio's time at Sonoma State was relatively short, barely six years (1990-96), but it was an important time for him, suggests former colleague Jonah Raskin, now a retired professor from the Communications Department.
Efforts to create a free speech memorial to Savio on the Sonoma State campus began soon after his death, but failed to progress for many years, before a new crop of current students successful took up the issue two years ago. Jonah Raskin suspects that SSU President Reuben Armanana—who was not present at the dedication—was not very enthusiastic about the proposed memorial.
The crowd that attended the Thusday noon-hour dedication of the Free Speech Corner on the SSU quad was a mix of current and past students and quite a few of Savio's former colleagues from the SSU faculty. (All photos by Bruce Robinson for KRCB)The $22,000 installation was accomplished entirely with fiscal and material donations, and required no funds directly from the university.
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