New York University historian Robert Cohen, author of the newly released biography of the late Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio, Freedoms Orator (Oxford), will be among the panelists for a discussion on the movement on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 5-7 p.m. at the Free Speech Movement Café, located in the University of California, Berkeleys Moffitt Library.
The event, which will also include Savios widow, Lynne Hollander Savio, and Pulitzer-Prize-winning UC Berkeley professor emeritus of history Leon Litwack, is bookended by the 45th anniversaries of two events that launched the Free Speech Movement, making UC Berkeley a cornerstone of 1960s activism.
On Oct. 1, 1964, on UC Berkeleys Sproul Plaza, Savio climbed on top of a police car-in socks in order to prevent marring the vehicle-to protest the arrest of a demonstrator on the Berkeley campus. Students had been resisting the universitys attempts to ban political advocacy on campus.
On Dec. 2, 1964, Savio and others organized a Sproul Plaza demonstration against university administration policies on speech. The event drew 6,000 students, resulted in mass arrests, and was highlighted by Savios iconic seven-minute address against the university machine that had become so odious. It may be viewed on YouTube.
With these efforts, Savio did more than anyone to make UC Berkeley a center of student activism in the 1960s, setting the stage for nationwide campus protests of the Vietnam War.
Cohen, who obtained a doctorate in history from UC Berkeley in 1987, is the chair of Department of Teaching and Learning in NYUs Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Cohens previous works include When the Old Left Was Y
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