Waterloo Civil Rights History Bus Tour in honor of Martin Luther - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo Civil Rights History Bus Tour in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

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To commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy, dozens of people participated in a Waterloo bus tour exploring stand-out locations of Civil Rights history.

The tour was led by Iowa Civil Rights Trail Coordinator Charles Pearson. Some of the stops included the same areas Dr. King visited back in 1959.

Pearson said, "On Park Avenue, you have where Martin Luther King Jr. and Corretta Scott stayed at the Black's Building."

Dr. King's trip to Waterloo inspired many people who saw him including, local Civil Rights Icon Willie Mae Wright.

Wright said, "You can't explain what it was like, it was like the people in Jerusalem with Jesus." She continued, "We were just overjoyed. You didn't know what was happening."

Today, Wright was honored for carrying on Dr. King's legacy, a highlight of the day for Reverend Abraham Funchess.

Funchess said, "Willie Mae Wright is bequeathing the legacy for others today, and for her to receive the recognition in front of all those other people who are also leaders, that was a real joy."

The tour stopped at 'Smokey Row', the neighborhood that served as home to many of the city's earliest black residents. Another stop was near East High School's football field, where a major riot occurred in September of 1968. It was an area in Waterloo that was changed as a result of the assassination of Dr. King. 

Pearson said, "One night and that was the end of this area." He continued, "That riot transformed the whole landscape of East Waterloo."

Other stops included Walt Cunningham School, the Jesse Cosby Center and Payne AME Church. 

Pearson says he's working to make more bus tours happen in the future.

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