Fighting hate for a decade

SOURCE: Kennebec Journal 4/3/10

Stephen Wessler traces his interest in civil rights back to childhood, when he and his mother, a social worker, sat in their living room in Cambridge, Mass., and watched Walter Cronkite report on protest marches in the South.

Later, when Wessler was in high school, the family moved to St. Louis, where his father, a doctor, had taken a job at the university hospital. On the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, Wessler remembers driving in his mostly white suburban neighborhood, listening to a soul music radio station. The DJ asked listeners to turn on their car lights as a sign of mourning.

“I remember being aware that I was the only one in my neighborhood with my lights on,” said Wessler, 58.

Wessler, who is the founder and executive director of the Center for Preventing Hate, would go on to make career of defending human rights and fighting prejudice and discrimination.

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