A Celebration of Martin Luther King's Legacy
AMES, Iowa – On the eve of the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president, more than 30 Iowa State student-athletes took part in a community celebration of Martin Luther King’s legacy Monday at the Ames Middle School. The Cyclones explained the achievements of an African American in their respective sports to an audience of more than 100 children.
“We wanted to convey the importance of Martin Luther King day, to recognize the event and be thankful for the things he did for our nation,” said student-athlete advisory council president and ISU men’s golfer Eric Lindquist.
“We are a completely different nation now. His influence on our nation was nothing but positive.”
Among the trailblazers cited by the student-athletes was Jack Trice. Trice, Iowa State’s first African-American student-athlete, died from injuries suffered in a Cyclone football game at Minnesota in 1923. Today, his name graces Iowa State’s football stadium and is the only college stadium named for an African-American.
Among the participants was women’s track sprinter Leia Jackson. Jackson said the celebration was community wide.
“It was bringing the community together,” Jackson said. “Having the kids there was obviously great. It’s great for them to see the student-athletes from Iowa State as older role models. It was nice for the community to see what we are doing out of the context of our own competition. We chose an African-American athlete in each individual sport and used that person to demonstrate the challenges these people overcame in their lives.”
It was Jackson’s first time as a presenter at the Ames MLK celebration. Jamie Hurst of Iowa State student-athlete services says the presentation has become an annual event.
“It is always wonderful for our student-athletes to be invited to participate in Ames community events,” Hurst said. “The Student-Athlete Advisory Council has participated in this event for many years and their enthusiasm for their continued involvement is significant.”
The evening included music, with a performance by the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Choir.