Mario Savio Drew Ire of University Administrators Over Free Speech to the End, NYU's Cohen Recounts in New Biography


Mario Savio’s three-decade life as an activist ended in much the way it began-aggravating a university administration in his advocacy of free speech. Now. the first biography of the civil rights leader, authored by New York University Professor Robert Cohen, Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, will be published by Oxford University Press, Sept. 24, 2009.

Mario Savio’s three-decade life as an activist ended in much the way it began-aggravating a university administration in his advocacy of free speech. Savio, one of the leaders of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement who drew the ire of University of California administrators in the mid-1960s, was in the midst of battle with Sonoma State University over a proposed fee hike when he died in November of 1996, going into a deep coma after suffering heart fibrillation.

“The administration felt that Savio had gone ‘gone too far’ and left the campus leadership ‘really terminally annoyed,’ ” Donald Farish, the Sonoma State provost at the time, recounts in the first biography of the civil rights leader, authored by New York University Professor Robert Cohen. The work, Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, is published by Oxford University Press (Sept. 24).

Cohen recounts Savio’s efforts to halt a proposed $300 fee hike on Sonoma State students in the book final chapter, “Dying in the Saddle.”

Savio saw the fee 500

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