While many of us are familiar with national civil rights events and figures, important Iowans and events that happened in our state are often forgotten:
Alexander Clark was an Iowan who fought for desegregation in Iowa schools, recruited soldiers for the Union side in the Civil War, and was a U.S. ambassador for Liberia.
Buxton, Iowa (The Great Buxton), was a booming coal town in the early 1900s where “racial integration and harmony existed there at a time when racial tolerance was the exception and not the rule” until the coal ran out in the 1920s, and folks had to leave.
In the summer of 1964, Iowan students volunteered for Freedom Summer where they helped register voters and taught in freedom schools, working in racially segregated towns in Mississippi.
In 1948, Edna Mae Griffin (the “Rosa Parks of Iowa”) helped desegregate the former Katz Drug Store in downtown Des Moines.
Iowa has a rich history which includes African American Iowans who influenced the world. The Iowa Department of Human Rights has many resources to learn more about African American culture, history, and also the 2022 Status of African American in Iowa.