Mario Savio today

Mario Savio

The Detroit News, August 13, 1995

Older, grayer and often beset by the infirmities that strike at midlife, many of them remain committed to causes that mirror their youthful fervor. Out of the headlines, many are still in the trenches. For most, political philosophy remains a powerful force in their lives.

With his bushy red ponytail, for example, Mario Savio - 52 and plagued by an arthritic elbow - recently waited for a chance to speak in the crowded room where University of California regents were discussing plans to end affirmative action programs. He never got it, because speakers were selected by lottery.

Instead, the Sonoma State mathematics and critical-thinking instructor, whose oratory from the roof of a car sparked the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in 1964, handed out brochures for the Campus Coalitions for Human Rights and Social Justice, the organization he helped start nine months ago.

"Mostly I believe in going along with the program and keeping your eyes open," said the father of three sons, one of whom helped write the Campus Coalitions brochure. "There are so many things wrong in the galaxy, you'd be fighting Klingons if you tried to take on every one of them."

"But occasionally something comes down the pike which is just so horrible in affirmative action, that you just have to do something."

See the New York Times obituary, November 1996

  • Notes from the Savio memorial service, 12/8/96
  • Mario Savio's Pages compiled by


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