In the past three weeks, all Wesley Staedt could think about was marching down the streets of Whitewater and into campus.
The idea of a Civil Rights remembered march came to Staedt after attending a university-sponsored Civil Rights spring break trip last spring semester.
“The trip was more than a museum visit—it was such an unforgettable experience! I added my name to the Wall of Tolerance at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, taking the pledge to work toward justice, equality and human rights,” Staedt said. “The best thing I took away from the trip was realizing that injustice still exists in our world, and that I needed to do something about it.”
Staedt, a senior history major, led a Civil Rights remembered march from downtown Whitewater to campus on March 7, 2012. This date was chosen in honor of Bloody Sunday, which took place in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.
To Staedt, the march was about remembrance and taking a stand against injustice.
“I marched in remembrance of all those who fought for our rights as citizens, but I also marched to show others where I stand and that I will not tolerate injustice,” said Staedt.
During the march, Staedt felt overwhelmed by emotions. She had been planning this event since last June.
“The march took me back to that place where others before me had fought for our rights,” Staedt said. “I didn’t carry a sign, but if I had, it would have said, ‘Remember Selma’.”
Staedt believes people need to focus more on the Civil Rights Movement to remember the injustice and intolerance of the 1960s to avoid repeating history.
“Be smart and realize prejudice,” Staedt stated. “I want people to remember the Civil Rights Movement, but also to learn from history.”
Staedt hoped the march would help the campus community embrace diversity at UW-Whitewater.
“I want people to evaluate their opinions and attitudes toward other groups,” Staedt said. “Members of our campus community need to work together in order to embrace diversity.”
For students, faculty and staff members unable to attend the march, Staedt believes there are other ways to embrace diversity on campus.
“I wish everyone could have experienced the march. But there are so many other ways to experience diversity on campus,” Staedt said.
Old Main Lane is currently displaying photos from the Civil Rights spring break trip.
To view photos from the march, please visit the Royal Purple website.
Visit the UW-Whitewater Diversity website for information on campus diversity events.