Black History Month in Iowa

It’s February which means it’s Black History month, and while I fully support learning and celebrating Black history year-round, we are going to take a little dive into the Black history of Iowa. We are extremely lucky in Cedar Rapids to have the African American Museum of Iowa located right here in our city. This resource is open year round, #notjustfebruary, with interactive exhibits for young and old to learn about Black history in the United States. If you haven’t visited…what are you waiting for?!

Did you know?

The (Keokuk) Western Baptist Herald newspaper was the first Black owned publication in Iowa. Started around 1881, Mrs. Amos Johnson was the editor serving the community through 1885.

Dr. E.A. Carter was the first African American to graduate from the University of Iowa Medical College in 1907. He practiced medicine in Buxton in Southeast Iowa.

Iowa’s first African American female lawyer was Gertrude E. Rush. She earned her law degree from Des Moines University in 1914 and was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1918.

Luther T. Glanton was the first African American law student at Drake University earning his degree in 1942. He became Iowa’s first Black judge in 1959. His wife Willie Stevenson Glanton became Iowa’s first Black female legislator representing Polk County.

In 1946, Des Moines native and Drake University graduate Harriette Curley was hired as the first African American teacher in the Des Moines Public School District. She taught kindergarten at Perkins Elementary. 

The first Black woman to compete in the Miss America pageant was Cheryl Browne, who was a New York native but attended Luther College in Decorah and became Miss Iowa in 1970.

Visit the African American Museum of Iowa to learn so much more about Black history in Iowa and the United States and support local Black owned businesses!

Support them and many others in our communities!

Monique Johnson with American National Insurance

LeShawn Smith with Shawnniecakes

Jerome and Briana Smallwood with Vivian’s Soul Food

L.D. Kidd with 100% Over Racism

Willie Ray Fairley with Willie Ray’s Q Shack

Candice Luter with Candice Luter Art & Interiors

Monique Clark with Clark Children and Family Services

Nassor Cooper with The Rewind bar

Pernell and Rod with Blk & Bold coffee

About Office Evolution Cedar Rapids

At Office Evolution Cedar Rapids, we provide virtual office, coworking, and private office solutions at our shared office center. We offer meeting rooms, offices, hot desking in a shared workspace coworking lounge, a shared reception, a business address, and virtual receptionist services. We have many options and price points, and all terms are flexible. Plus, you become part of a community of like-minded professionals.

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