Free Speech Movement Bios

Mario Savio (1942 – 1996)

Mario Savio was born in New York City and graduated at the top of his high school class. He attended Manhattan College and Queens College before moving to Berkeley. In 1964 he travelled to Mississippi and participated in the Civil Rights struggle. When he returned to the Berkeley campus for the fall semester, he “found the university preventing us from collecting money for use there [Mississippi] and even stopping us from getting people to go to Mississippi to help.” He became the leader of the demonstrations against UC Berkeley’s ban of on-campus political activities that became known as the Free Speech Movement.  Many of the tactics of the FSM became a model for larger protests against the Vietnam War. Savio completed his undergraduate degree and earned a Master’s degree at San Francisco State University, and later taught mathematics in public and private schools. He ended his career teaching math, philosophy and logic at Sonoma State University. He is survived by his widow, Lynne Hollander.

Clark Kerr (1911 – 2003)

Clark Kerr earned his Ph.D. in economics from UC Berkeley in 1939, and became an associate professor of industrial relations at Berkeley in 1945. In 1949, the UC Regents adopted an anti-communist loyalty oath to be signed by all UC employees. Although he signed the oath, he fought against the firing of those who would not. His position earned him great respect with the faculty, and he was named the first Chancellor of UC Berkeley when the position was created in 1952. He served on Eisenhower’s Commission on Intergovernmental Relations starting in 1953, and became president of the UC system in 1958. He served as UC president until 1967.

Edward Strong (1901-1990)

A sociologist and philosopher, Edward W. Strong served in a variety of academic posts on the Berkeley campus — from chair of two departments to vice chancellor for academic affairs — before becoming chancellor. During his tenure he helped secure major donations for improvements to International House and to augment the collection of the Bancroft Library. He also saw the completion of Latimer, Barrows, Wurster and Etcheverry Halls. His administration’s achievements were overshadowed by the Free Speech Movement, in fall 1964, which brought with it three months of student unrest and campus disruption and led to Strong’s resignation in 1965.

Katherine Towle (1898 – 1986)

Katherine Towle came to Berkeley with her family in 1908. She graduated with honors from UC Berkeley in 1920, and went on to earn her Master’s degree in political science in 1935. She served in the Marine Corps from 1943-1953, as Director of Women Marines, and earned several military awards. After retiring from the Marine Corps, she became Dean of Women at UC Berkeley, then Assistant Dean of Students, and later as the first female Dean of Students.

Jack Weinberg

Part of a growing group of students in Berkeley involved in the fight for civil rights, Weinberg was manning the Congress of Racial Equality Table on Sproul when he was arrested in 1964, setting off a 36-hour student demonstration in the Free Speech Movement. Following his days as a student, Weinberg became a union and environmental activist. He worked for Greenpeace and the Environmental Health Fund, an organization that works with public interest groups to protect public health from injury caused by chemical pollution. Weinberg works with organizations around the world to build an activist network that challenges the policies and practices of the chemical industry.

Bettina Aptheker

Bettina Aptheker was born in North Carolina and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Both her parents were activists – her mother was a union organizer and her father was a Marxist historian and author. Aptheker was an undergraduate student at Berkeley in the early 1960s and became a leader of the 1964 Free Speech Movement. After 10 years of political activism, she returned to academia to pursue her master’s degree in communications at San Jose State University. She later taught at that university as well. Aptheker now teaches feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz.

Art Goldberg

Art Goldberg was raised in Los Angeles’ Inglewood neighborhood and came to Berkeley in 1963. He was part of the student group SLATE that protested issues related to the Cold War and civil rights violations. After being expelled from Berkeley, he attended Howard University and later Rutgers University, where he completed his J.D. He established the Working People’s Law Center in Los Angeles’ Echo Park, offering legal counsel to people in need.

Michael Rossman (1939 – 2008)

Michael Rossman’s family moved to Marin County from Denver when Rossman was 3. He spent 1 year at the University of Chicago before returning to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley. He became a leader of the Free Speech Movement in 1964 and helped document the University’s response to political activity over the years. After leaving Berkeley, Rossman taught science at Bay Area schools until his retirement. He passed away in 2008.

Jackie Goldberg

Jackie Goldberg grew up in Inglewood Los Angeles and came to study at UC Berkeley in the early 1960s. She joined the SLATE student group, which protested national and global political issues such as the Cold War and civil rights violations. She became a leader of the Free Speech Movement in 1964. After graduating Berkeley, Goldberg received her master’s degree in education from the University of Chicago. She served on the Los Angeles City Council and was elected to the State Assembly. She was also president of the Los Angeles School Board, and was a founding member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus.

Steve Weismann

After helping to lead the Free Speech Movement as a student at Berkeley, Steve Weismann wrote for the New Left monthly Ramparts. He moved to London where lived for many years, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he continues to research and write about international affairs.

Alex Sherriffs

Sherriffs was a professor of psychology and vice-chancellor for student affairs at UC Berkeley during the early 1960s, and was a forceful administrator against student political advocacy. He was appointed by then Gov. Ronald Reagan as chief educational adviser from 1967 to 1973, and then as vice chancellor of the California State University and Colleges system.

Mona Hutchins

Mona Hutchins was a libertarian as a student at Berkeley, and a member of the Young Republican student group. She was politically conservative, but shared the FSM’s rejection of rules against the rights of students to advocate for their political beliefs. She was a member of the FSM steering committee and a delegate alongside Mario Savio at a hearing before the Regents regarding free speech on the Berkeley campus.

Suzanne Goldberg

Suzanne Goldberg was a graduate student at UC Berkeley at the time of the FSM. She became active in the Free Speech Movement, serving on the steering committee, at one point as secretary, and was appointed by the FSM to the Committee on Campus Political Activity. Goldberg married and later divorced FSM spokesman Mario Savio. They had two children together. Goldberg went on to pursue a career in psychology.

John Searle

As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, John Searle was secretary of the “Students Against Joseph McCarthy” group. After graduating, he was a Rhodes Scholar and received his PhD in Philosophy at Oxford University. He joined the faculty of UC Berkeley in 1959, and became the first faculty member to join the Free Speech Movement. He later served as chairman of the Academic Freedom Committee and on the Academic Senate of the University of California. He continues to teach at Berkeley and is widely noted for his work on the philosophy of language.

Lawrence Levine (1933 – 2006)

Lawrence Levine was born and raised in New York City. He studied history as an undergraduate at the City University of New York, and later earned his master’s and PhD from Columbia. Levine joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1962 and immersed himself in the political life of the campus. He joined sit-ins with the Congress of Racial Equality and defended students involved in the FSM. In the 1980s, he was a member of the campus Academic Senate’s Special Committee on Education and Ethnicity, which developed UC Berkeley’s American Cultures Breadth Requirement. Levine was a MacArthur Fellow and widely noted for his work on folk thought and culture.

Reginald Zelnik (1936 – 2004)

Reginald Zelnik joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1964, after earning his undergraduate degree at Princeton, a 2-year stint in the Navy, and completing graduate degrees from Stanford. As a junior faculty member he supported student rights and defended the activists involved in the FSM. He was a pioneer in the field of Russian labor history and was known for his willingness to mentor and support students.

Bob Avakian

Bob Avakian was one of the 800 arrested in the FSM sit-in, which was a turning point in his life; the spirit of critical thinking, standing up against injustice that characterized the FSM led to his involvement in the crucial questions of those times, and up to the present. Avakian was involved in the Vietnam Day Committee and Students for a Democratic Society; having also worked with Ramparts magazine. He worked closely with the Black Panther Party, and organized political defense for activist Huey Newton. Avakian helped found the Revolutionary Union and, later, the Revolutionary Communist Party, which he leads today. As an internationally-known communist leader, he has written extensively on communist philosophy and revolutionary strategy. Avakian has continued to explore and interrogate the first wave of communist theory and practice, and has brought forward a new synthesis of communism.