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Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy lives on in Iowa

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(KWWL) - Today, people all over the country are celebrating the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He fought for racial equality for African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement, organizing peaceful marches and rallies.

Known for his nonviolent approach to social change, King and his wife, Coretta, made stops all over the country, including right here in Iowa.

In 1959, the couple visited the Hawkeye State and Black Hawk County for the first time. King spoke at the Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, which is now the University of Northern Iowa.

The King family frequently made stops in Waterloo to talk about social services, education and housing. They visited the public library, the Black's Building, Waterloo East High School, area churches and often stayed at the Russell Lamson Hotel.

But it wasn't just the Cedar Valley.

Mr. and Mrs. King stopped in Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines to champion for equal rights and social justice.

Charles Pearson, a local historian, said the Kings showed everyone the importance of equality.

"White and black people can sit at the table together, and say 'Look. Not only can we have a conversation, we can get some things accomplished on a broader scope talking to Dr. Martin Luther King and implementing his vision,'" he said.

Pearson talked about King's dream – a world where people are not divided by race. He referenced King's famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. He reminds us all to learn from King's loyalty, compassion and perseverance.

"Don't ever stop dreaming of being great," Pearson said. "Don't ever take your concept because someone else don't buy into it and let them distort you from your vision. Dream. That's what Martin Luther King said. 'I have a dream."'

King visited Grinnell in 1967. That was his last stop in Iowa before his assassination in 1968.

If you would like to see some of the same stops King and his wife made in Iowa, in addition to other historical sites, you can visit the Iowa Civil Rights Trail. The goal is to preserve African American Civil Rights history in Iowa.

For more information, visit:

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Olivia Schmitt

Morning Anchor

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