Tag Archives: civil rights

March on Washington, Sioux City Siouxland commemoration

28 Aug

I attended a small, under 50, gathering today commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.s’ riveting speech in Sioux City, Iowa. It was a nice ceremony, only sad that more people didn’t attend. Holding it at Noon or lunch time I am certain it is inconvenient to many, and holding it in the city’s city council chambers is a small venue. The mayor read a proclamation after a prayer to start the commemoration. Then a local NAACP leader recited Mr. King’s “Mountaintop” speech and finally there was a patriotic song.

I found it interesting that since 1986 when Congress created the national holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the city of Sioux City has not officially recognized that holiday. A little reading online shows that by 2000 all 50 states had adopted the holiday. Woodbury County, in which Sioux City is located, has officially acknowledged the holiday. During today’s ceremony local NAACP member Richard Hayes, also former director of the human rights commission, again asked the current city council to formally recognize this national holiday. He said he asked the council in 1986. And hopes that by Jan. 20, 2014, the city will recognize the holiday.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa



Freedom Fighters, sharing the legacy in Siouxland, Sioux City

13 Mar

This past week Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Iowa, was host to a speaker who addressed students involved with the local TRIO group. A few other adults and interested persons attended this address at the school given by  Sheyann Webb-Christburg. Ms. Webb-Christburg talked about being 8-years-old when she participated in Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Southern Christian Leadership Conference led the this protest march for the shooting of one Jimmy Lee Jackson by an Alabama state trooper. The group planned to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. On the approach to the bridge, the marchers found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around and go back. The protesters refused, led by now Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Freedom Fighters, the officers shot teargas and entered the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and seriously hurting over fifty people. Ms. Webb-Christburg wrote a book about her experience titled “Selma, Lord, Selma: Girlhood Memories of the Civi-Rights Days”.

Her talk was inspiring to all who attended in that she talked about being a person of integrity and character. And where we all fall down on those every now and again, for the students attending, the speech was filled with optimism and hope. Overcoming personal obstacles to achieve a goal. And for Ms. Webb-Christburg that was surviving the march that day in 1965, going to an integrated school, attending college and being the first in her family to graduate and still be able to talk positively without hate. It was a nice speech. Below are two versions of what she said at WIT. The first is an edited 14 minute version, the second, the entire speech unedited. We all have bad days, but a lot of what passes for issues these days where we feel beleaguered pales in comparison to what the Freedom Fighter and other people working for civil rights for all citizens of this country. And as she stated, the United States has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa




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