Mason City native profiled as part of Iowa House daily opening speeches on Black History Month (AUDIO)

DES MOINES — February is Black History Month, and the Iowa House has been opening each day of its session with a short speech from a member. Each member does research on a prominent piece of Black history, and nearly all of them have been profiling a person, but a few have also talked about other things of historical relevance.

Mason City Democrat Sharon Steckman profiled Mason City native Dr. Deborah Turner during her speech today. Turner practiced gynecologic oncology for 35 years and worked in the private sectors at hospitals in Mason City, Davenport and Des Moines.

Steckman talked about Turner’s reflections about Mason City during a recent conversation they had.  “Dr. Turner fondly remembers Mason City as a diverse community. There were large settlements of Jews, that’s when they built the synagogue in Mason City, large settlements of Greeks, Mexicans and Blacks. They all came to fill jobs with the railroad, cement plant, sugar beet factory, and the packing house. They came for opportunities. She also remembers the community as very accepting and welcoming of everyone.”

Turner currently serves as the 20th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. Steckman talked about Turner being back in Mason City at the end of last year helping to establish a local chapter of the organization.  “There was a huge turnout for the meeting, and as we were listening to members from Ames tell us how to set up the group, the national president of the League of Women Voters came in and fired up the entire room. It just so happened she was in her hometown of Mason City that day, visiting friends and getting her home ready to sell.”

Steckman wrapped up her presentation with a quote from Turner about growing up in Iowa. “I was very fortunate to live in Iowa and have an incredible opportunity for a stellar education. We need to continue to support education in Iowa.”

Steckman’s speech on Thursday morning was the last in the series of House speeches on Black History Month as the legislature typically does not meet on Fridays.

You can hear Steckman’s entire presentation via the audio player below.