Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Dream" Lives on in Cedar Rapids
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - August 28th, 1963. More than 200,000 people flooded the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What they called "a massive March on Washington for jobs" turned into a stance on civil rights that has seldom been matched in American history.
It was there, one of the leaders of the diverse throng, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech calling for racial equality in America.
It’ll be 50 years since that day, next Wednesday. An anniversary Cedar Rapids leaders were keen to celebrate Saturday morning at the African American Museum of Iowa. There, about 50 gathered to sing songs and give speeches to commemorate the march.
Those who remember it said it was unlike anything the nation had seen before.
“Many thousands of people coming together for a singular purpose, it really was a seminal moment,” said Chair of the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission Keith Rippy.
“It was a changing point in history, as far as civil rights and the rights of all Americans,” said Cedar Rapids Resident Gwen Randall.
The march is credited with spurring passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act by giving America a chance to reflect on its racial inequities.
“The watershed moment that the nation, and the millions able to see on TV, said, ‘Hey, what’s really going on in our nation’,” said Executive Director of the African American Museum of Iowa Michael Kates.
Cedar Rapidians also took time to acknowledge Dr. King, whose iconic speech is still fondly remembered and often quoted by many fighting for his cause.
“Every single year, when it’s Martin Luther King Day, I go to YouTube and listen to his speech,” said Cedar Rapids Resident Avery Cassell.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said the U.S. has made great strides since King told the nation his “dream”, but admitted there’s more work to do nationally, and even locally. “There’s still discrimination, there’s still racism out there. We just have got to keep working and making progress, and do a lot of educating,” said Corbett.
The event was hosted by the African American Museum of Iowa, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Peoples Church, Diversity Focus, and the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission.
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