Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg were among those celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
Gov. Reynolds named two women the recipients of the 2018 MLK Achievement Award.
CEO of Betty Andrews Media and President of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP Betty Andrews, and Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu, received the award at a ceremony in Des Moines.
Andrews stood with her grandson to accept the award. She acknowledged that King’s legacy allowed social justice work to continue, and it will continue long after her time.
“As I watch him grow, I look and I see my future,” Andrews says. “And I see that I have a lot of work to do because he is going to be standing on my shoulders.”
Basu was born in India and came to Iowa 27 years ago from the East Coast, where she says she both witnessed systemic racism and was an unwitting beneficiary of it. Since she has been here, Basu says Iowa has made progress on civil rights, citing implicit bias training for Des Moines police officers as an example. But referencing recent comments from the president and certain members of Congress, she says it’s been a tough year—and week—to be a person of color in this country.
“False narratives are advanced about white Americans becoming second class citizens in their own land and the offense is compounded when other elected leaders fail to acknowledge or denounce that.”
Basu called upon the white majority to reject racism.
The 29th Martin Luther King Junior Day celebration was held at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and concluded with a singing of “We Shall Overcome".