Luther Trent was the son of the only black family in the community of Tracy, Iowa. He was born on March 30th, 1916 to parents Luther and Coo Myrtle Trent and graduated from Tracy Consolidated High School in 1934. He went on to work for Penick and Ford (now Penford Products) from 1955 until 1975, though his true passion was human rights. He proved this through the action that he took to make his community a better place to live.
“He really worked for the poor people. He didn’t want you to stay in poverty- he wanted you to do better.”
-Flossie Wright, Trent family friend and caretaker
Trent moved to Cedar Rapids in 1942, which is where most of his community involvement began. When he retired in 1975, he was able to put more focus into the work that he was passionate about. He joined a variety of different organizations, including the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) and the Oak Hill Citizens Committee, where he worked on creating access to affordable housing and renovating parks and playgrounds for his neighbors. Luther Trent was an active member of eight different organizations, and he even served as the president of the Cedar Rapids chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1970’s.
Luther Trent (right) and son, Donald Ray (left).
Above all, Luther Trent believed in equal opportunity. His work on minority employment particularly highlights this. He grew up in a time when simply having brown skin made him a target. Regardless of the struggles that he faced growing up, he continued to fight for equality.
“Lots of things I go to I might be the only black, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t look at color. I don’t look at age. I look at the cause. We’re all here for the same reason.”