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'We Shall Overcome' historical marker to commemorate 1965 campus sit-in

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

LAWRENCE — A historical marker commemorating a 1965 student sit-in at the University of Kansas will be unveiled Wednesday at a ceremony in Strong Hall.

The ceremony is open to the public. It is scheduled for 4 p.m. May 4 in 330 Strong Hall.

The historical marker, which will be permanently installed on the second floor of Strong Hall at a later date, commemorates the sit-in of March 8, 1965. On that day, students affiliated with the Civil Rights Council on campus marched to the hallway outside the office of Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe and launched a sit-in.

The protesters were committed to nonviolent action and issued a list of seven demands around the goal of eradicating racism in restaurants and housing.

The event will feature a welcome from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and remarks from Bill Tuttle, professor emeritus of American studies.

After the protests, Wescoe met with students and appointed a committee to address the issues raised by the students. The sit-in was successful in changing discriminatory practices in campus housing and university-sanctioned organizations.

The historical marker features a quote from Lawrence historian Rusty L. Monhollon.

“The 1965 demonstration was perhaps the most successful civil rights protest ever in Lawrence,” he wrote. “In part, the timing was right, and the administration was simply catching up with the tide of civil rights reform sweeping the nation.”