MLK Day -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s Eastern Iowa visits in 1959 and 1962

Todd Dorman
Published: January 20 2014 | 1:01 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:23 am in
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The Des Moines Register has a nice piece today about Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nov. 11, 1959, speech in Iowa City. It made me wonder how The Gazette covered it.

So I checked the archives. On November 12, 1959, the big story was an autumn snowstorm. "ROADS BECOMING HAZARDOUS" said the blaring headline. There were two dateline Iowa City stories on page 1. One about a survey of 200 University of Iowa students that showed 25 percent cheated on 1st semester exams. A second was on U of I researchers trying to figure out how to provide fresh air to spacemen. "Fresh Iowa Air for Spaceship?" the headline asked.

But King's stop made the bottom of page 10. It might have been a graph or two longer had we not goofed on the price of coffee at Buehler's.

King got a lot more local attention in October 1962, when he gave speeches to big crowds at Cornell College in Mount Vernon and at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. His appearance at Cornell rated a front-page piece by Frank Nye.

A crowd of 600 saw King speak at Cornell. Nye, to his credit, got out of the way, and let King's eloquence drive his story:

Powerful stuff. Just typing it gives you goosebumps.

King's speech at Coe drew 1,200, although The Gazette's story "Overflow Crowd Hears King at Coe" was relegated to page 14. Like Nye, reporter Ben Blackstock handed much of his space over to King's words:

Less than a year later, King gave his most famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.  In one passage, he returned to the theme of suffering he addressed at Cornell:

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