The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 20, 2014

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Dozens of people gathered Sunday to celebrate and honor the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

As people filled the stands at Ashford University the sound of the activists’ voice could be heard filling the gymnasium as King’s “I Have a Dream” speech played on repeat over the sound system.

Those in attendance, including U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, Iowa Sen. Rita Hart and Iowa Rep. Mary Wolfe, had an opportunity to witness a speech of a different kind as award-winning radio host Joe Madison delivered a message, invoking the spirit of MLK.

“We have an obligation; we can’t retire,” Madison said. “In America we are culturally conditioned to believe that white is superior, that black is inferior...and what Dr. King did, was that he changed the paradigm.”

The crowd applauded Madison with a standing ovation and thanked the speaker for his perspective on the work of MLK with words of praise and gratitude.

In return, Madison thanked the city of Clinton and the community for their continued recognition of MLK and commended them for hosting the celebration for 26 years.

“It is impressive that this celebration has lasted for 26 years,” Madison said. “It says a lot about the community and about the diversity of its people.”

That sustainability comes from the group of people in the Martin Luther King Celebration planning committee, and their commitment to spread a message of peace and tolerance.

One member in particular has gone above and beyond to relay that message and to honor her, the committee presented Mardell Mommsen with the 12th annual Peace and Justice award.

Although she was humbled by receiving the award, Mommsen said the recognition is not why she does what she does.

“I use these opportunities to teach students and the community,” Mommsen said. “Our community is doing a lot of good you just have to get out of your comfort zone to recognize it.”

That community support for good was recognizable on Sunday as the group stood together to sing the words of the early gospel song “We Shall Overcome.”

As the event concluded, Madison challenged those in attendance to continue fighting for social justice and to never forget the mission that Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Madison said.