Estes keynote speaker for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Simon Estes speaks to Ottumwa High School students.

Monday was not only Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but also the inauguration of President Obama, as well. Both of these events were honored in a keynote speech given by world renowned singer Simon Estes.

Estes spoke to two groups of students at Ottumwa High School Monday morning, the first of which was directly after President Obama was sworn into a second term. Estes has sung in front of six United States presidents, including President Obama, and in his speech Monday, Estes emphasized the importance of education in reaching your dreams.

Estes told the crowd he would not be where he is today without a teacher at the University of Iowa, who helped him realize his talent and reach for his dream.

"Each of you sitting here today, you're getting your nourishment from all of your teachers and principals and superintendents," Estes said. "They are here to prepare you to become the person in the profession you wish to become someday. So therefore, you get this nourishment from your school and from your education."

In honor of MLK Day, Estes also told the students what it was like growing up in Centerville in the 1950's and 1960's, where people of color were still largely treated as inferior. By around 1969 and 1970, Estes had performed all over the world, but some venues in the United States would still not allow a man of color to perform.

That's when Estes said he learned the greatest lesson of all from his mother -- "never be bitter, never seek revenge".

Estes will speak again at Ottumwa High School at 7 Monday evening for a community celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event is free and open to the public.