When Martin Luther King Jr. Visited the University of Northern Iowa
On this date, October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. King was given the award due to his nonviolent resistance to racial injustice in the United States.
Per History.com, "The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted, and their nonviolent movement gained momentum."
What few UNI alumni know -- and fewer residents of the state know -- is that MLK visited Cedar Falls and spoke in the university's Lang Hall just five years prior. This was his first visit to Black Hawk County and the state. Northern Iowa was known as the Iowa State Teacher's College at the time.
According to kwwl.com, "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."
King made roots in the Cedar Valley but was sure to spread his reach across the state as well. He and his wife, Coretta, stopped in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines to speak and connect with others in regards to equal rights and social justice.
Charles Pearson, a Waterloo historian who founded Pearson Consulting LLC, spoke with KWWL about King's visits to the Cedar Valley. They spoke about his message: "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,'" Pearson said.
In order to see some of the places the Kings stayed and would like to see other sites with historical significance, you can visit the Iowa Civil Rights Trail in Waterloo.