MLK’s Niece Visits DMPS on MLK Day

Members of North High's choir took part in a MLK Day celebration at their school on Monday evening.

Members of North High’s choir took part in a MLK Day celebration at their school on Monday evening.

Monday night you could either have gone to see the movie Selma, “now playing in theaters everywhere,” or you could have come to the North High School auditorium. Either choice would have set the mood of the civil rights movement that gathered steam in America during the 1960s under the inspired leadership of the late, great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday was MLK Day across the land, an occasion marked in many ways including a day off from school. But the movement never takes a day off and so it was that Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, came to speak at North and was joined by full-throated gospel choirs from both North and Roosevelt.

Alveda King is what journalists would consider a primary source. She bore personal witness to American history as it unfolded literally right in her own home which was bombed in 1963. When the man she refers to as “Uncle M.L.,” was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 it was Alveda’s father and MLK’s brother, A.D. King, who accompanied the brutally widowed Coretta Scott King to claim the slain icon’s body. Alveda was a teenager at the time, about the same age as the singers who honored her Monday night.

The best word to describe the event at North is spirited. The event was attended by a variety of school, religious and community organizations. Alveda King’s visit was sponsored by the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women of America.

And Tuesday morning there was a smaller version of an encore assembly at Hiatt Middle School where Alveda King hit many of the same notes as she had the night before.

Despite all of the violence that has attended the lives of her and her family this Dr. King serenely continues to preach the nonviolent legacy of peaceful protest that was the rallying cry of her Uncle M.L. whose spiritual presence may have been symbolized at Hiatt by one of the egg-shaped globes that light the vast auditorium there. When Alveda King invited the crowd to turn on their cellphone lights and join her in singing This Little Light of Mine, eyes that looked upward couldn’t help but notice that one of the big bulbs hanging from the ceiling is out. Time for a change…

Dr. King is so much on the road that she often misses out on occasions most of us routinely celebrate with loved ones. For instance, her birthday is tomorrow. Since she won’t be able to make it home, how nice that some 600 kids were able to serenade her with an a cappella rendition of Happy Birthday a couple of days in advance. It wasn’t as practiced as Monday night’s selections by the choristers from North and Roosevelt but it rang just as heartfelt.

Photos of Alveda King Visit to North, Hiatt

Video of Dr. Alveda King’s visit to DMPS

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