Father of Free Speech Memorial Planned

savio2.jpgMario Savio's civil rights work as a university student in the Freedom Summer Project of 1964 in Mississippi led to his involvement as a leader of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley during 1964-1965. His brilliant rhetoric inspired thousands of students who demanded the administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom. Standing on the steps of Sproul Hall, Mario spoke to these students: "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part...you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop."

Not known to everyone is that Mario Savio was also a beloved teacher of math, philosophy and the humanities at Sonoma State University from 1990-1996. An inspiring teacher, colleague and friend, eloquent spokesperson and courageous activist, Mario empowered others to act upon conscience in order to ensure justice. He was a strong supporter of student rights, immigrant rights, and affirmative action. A man of great integrity, compassion, and a deep respect for his fellow human beings, including those whose positions he opposed, Mario touched the lives of all who knew and worked with him.

In November 2011 Sonoma State University approved a plan for a functional memorial. The memorial committee would like faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community to help complete funding the memorial which will be a speakers' corner on campus.

ddrawing.pngYour donations will make it possible to keep the spirit of Mario Savio and what he stood for alive on this campus through the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner. According to Mario, "Freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is. That's what marks us off from the stones and the stars. It is the thing that marks us as just below the angels."

The Mario Savio Speakers' Corner will be located on the northwest corner of the Stevenson Quad. This speakers' area will encourage students and the community to speak freely on issues of concern to them and will be a symbol of the right to speak freely in any public area.

The plan for the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner will also include quotes which will be engraved on the center of the speakers' area and on the benches surrounding a circular speakers' area set with stones of varying shades of gold, rose and tan. Two wheelchair accessible paths will lead out to the speakers' area, and three flowering plum trees will be planted on the berm directly behind the speakers' area.

We have raised the first $10,000 to turn the plan into reality. We need to raise another $10,000. The target date to meet our fund raising goal is June 1, 2012. Construction is planned for mid-July.

Given the high regard so many of us have for Mario and his work, our committee is confident that with your help we can meet this target! A generous donation of $1,000 was made in February kicking off our current fund raising drive. We need your help to meet the goal and make it happen.

Checks should be made out to SSU (memo line, Savio Memorial) and mailed to:

Mario Savio Speakers' Corner Memorial
Sonoma State University
University Development
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Online gifts may be made by going to


Additionally, A fund raising tribute to Mario Savio, hosted by SSU student group United by Struggles, is on Thursday, April 12, 7 p.m. in the SSU Cooperage. "Join us in this tribute to Mario Savio, an evening of "story-telling" testimonials, recognition, and a 15 minute video."

Gifts are tax deductible as charitable contributions. You will receive a letter acknowledging your donation. The names of donors of $250 or more will be included in a display about the life and work of Mario Savio to be placed on a wall of the Jean & Charles Schulz Information Center.

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