Magazine article Tikkun

Jack Weinberg: Remembering Mario Savio

Magazine article Tikkun

Jack Weinberg: Remembering Mario Savio

Article excerpt

I mourn Mario Savio, although I find it hard to acknowledge or accept the fact of his death. Mario was the first of the 1960s New Left media personalities. He leapt full force onto the stage of history, apparently from nowhere, as leader and voice of a massive student free-speech battle at the University of California, Berkeley, between October and December of 1964. The television and newspaper images of Mario's charismatic persona signaled to the world the start of a massive student and youth protest movement: a movement that continued, evolved, and ultimately helped define a decade. To know Mario only as his media persona, however, is to comprehend just a small part of who he was. Most public leaders learn to construct a media persona and then use it as a tool to deliver a message or to advance a cause. For Mario, media attention was troubling; it was an unintended consequence. The media were able to capture a slice of his reality, but Mario himself never sought to create nor to project any self-conscious media image.

Mario had been inspired to his activism by the courage and commitment of young African Americans, in the deep South and elsewhere, who were struggling for basic human, civil, and economic rights with little or no broad public recognition, often in the face of extreme violence and brutality. …

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