Tuesday, August 21, 2012

JFK Inspires Stout Students, 1960

JFK and the future first lady take the stage of the Stout Auditorium, February 26, 1960
In 1960, the UW-Stout hosted an extraordinary speaker.

On Friday, February 26th, 1960 presidential candidate John F. Kennedy spoke to an overflow crowd in the Stout Auditorium on campus. His lecture presented Stout students with a call to duty similar to the "Ask not what you can do..." challenge that he would make in his inaugural address the following year:

"Consider what contributions you can make. You are, in a sense, a politician yourself."

Jacqueline Kennedy was also at the event, and The Stoutonia student newspaper reported that her presence was an unusual phenomenon: "Mrs. Kennedy sat at her husband's side during the speech. Her friendliness toward students earned many new friends among them...It was a pleasant surprise for everyone to see Mrs. Kennedy with her husband. She doesn't always travel wither her husband, but when she does, she finds it, 'exhilarating.'"

The visit impressed a large number of students on campus, and the following issue of The Stoutonia described an active new group of JFK supporters on campus. "Kennedy Movement" student leader Don Stewart affirmed, "It is an election year and as citizens it is our duty to exercise our responsibility. We are directly responsible as to whom we choose to govern us...Don't be a mug-wamp, find out about the candidates and choose one to back. Your security, freedom, and peace may depend on the policy of the man we select for our next president."

The Stout Archives webpage includes highlights from a variety of political visitors to campus.

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