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Local activist's legacy remembered on MLK Day

Ruth Steele received the 2017 MLK Lifetime Achievement Award
Ruth Steele died one day after the 2021 MLK March in Pueblo
Posted at 1:02 AM, Jan 18, 2022

PUEBLO — Ruth Steele was a "fighter" in the eyes of the community.

Brought to Pueblo when she was just two weeks old in 1935, Steele would eventually find her life's purpose in civil rights activism.

"In Pueblo, we celebrated Dr. King's birthday two years before anyone else in the state did and it was because of Ruth," said Ray Brown, who is now the President of Pueblo's Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission.

Steele was instrumental in bringing the Martin Luther King Junior statue to Pueblo from Denver, when the citizens of Denver were displeased with the appearance of the statue, according to Brown.

Often referred to as Steele's "son", Brown says they often fought as though they were blood-related.

"She tried to develop that same fire and energy in the people that she knew."

The Martin Luther King Jr. statue now stands in front of the historic Lincoln Home on North Grand Ave. in Pueblo.

The building was originally a black orphanage and senior living home. Although under different management now, the building was at one point home to a black heritage museum and cultural center, which Steele poured her heart into.

"She was very forceful in her approach to get things done, and I think she had to be."

Steele also founded Pueblo's MLK Holiday Commission.

"I think Ruth and Doctor King, and other people like him... They were instrumental in starting the ball rolling, but we've got a long way to go to make things better."

Steele died on January 17, 2021 - One day after witnessing that year's annual MLK Day March.