‘We were lucky:’ Resident recalls first-hand experience in civil rights movement

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

When not spending time as a civil rights activist in the late-1960s, Central Lake native/MSU student Walt Bedell enjoyed playing his guitar, as he still does today. 

REGION – Wrapping up a challenging decade, 1969 was a significant year in American history – Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president, the first American died of a then-unknown disease that came to be classified as AIDS, hundreds of thousands marched on Washington, D.C. to protest the Vietnam War, and Neil Armstrong made “one giant leap for mankind” onto the surface of the moon.

It was also the year that Michigan State University junior Walt Bedell, of Central Lake, fully realized how much hate one man could have for another, simply because of the difference in their color of skin.

"That spring I attended a presentation held by civil rights leaders," he recalled last week. "A black man by the name of Charles Evers was running for the position of mayor in a small town called Fayette, Mississippi. Charles Evers' brother Medgar, a civil rights activist, had been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1963, and his older brother – who at that time was a field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – had taken up his cause of seeking equal rights for all, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, or skin color.” 

 

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