Wait. 'There are Black people in Iowa?'

Of course, there are, but it’s still a recurring question.

Someone recently posted a familiar question on Black Iowa News’ Facebook page: There are Black people in Iowa? Yes, there are – all over the state. Further back than 1840 when Iowa had 188 Black people. Today there are 131,972 Blacks in Iowa, according to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau.

Blacks in the state face longstanding disparities – with three cities – Davenport, Des Moines, and Waterloo ranked 13, 11, 6, respectively – on a list this month of the 20 worst cities for Black Americans by 24/7 Wall St.

With a publication name like Black Iowa News, invariably some people on social media have feigned surprise at learning there are Blacks living in Iowa – and that there is a media company whose mission is expressly centered upon raising the profile of Black Iowans.

The question could be facetious. Or maybe, the person asking is just uninformed. I decided look at 2020 U.S. Census Data on the State Data Center of Iowa’s website and share more about how many Black Iowans call the state home. After all, Black Iowa News exists to uplift the voices of Black Iowans, showcase the Black community and fill gaps in news coverage.

Usually when people ask me how many Blacks live in Iowa, or express shock that there are Black people living in the state, I sigh. It’s a bad, recurring joke I’ve been hearing for ages. So just how many Blacks call the state home?

  • The Black population in Iowa is among the fastest growing in the nation – the fifth-fastest growth in Black population across the country, according to the Des Moines Register. Blacks comprise 4.1% of the state’s population, or 131,972, according to the census.
  • Whites comprise 85.4% of the state’s population, or 2,694,521 people.

Nationwide, here are seven states with the highest white population, according to the census data:

  • Maine 90.8%
  • West Virginia 89.8%/Vermont 89.8% (tie)
  • New Hampshire 88.3%
  • Wyoming 84.7%
  • Iowa 84.5%/Montana 84.5% (tie)

Below find more details about Blacks in Iowa, including the Iowa counties, metro areas and school districts with the most Blacks.

Largest Black population by county

(In alphabetical order)

Black Hawk County 13,676 (10.4%)

Clinton County 1,420 (3.1%)

Dallas County 2,698 (2.7%)

Des Moines County 2,532 (6.5%)

Dubuque County 4,126 (4.2%)

Johnson County 12,847 (8.4%)

Linn County 16,449 (7.1%)

Muscatine County 1,141 (2.6%)

Polk County 35,623 (7.2%)

Pottawattamie County 1,889 (2%)

Scott County 14,117 (8.1%)

Story County 3,019 (3.1%)

Wapello County 1,469 (4.1%)

Webster County 1,825 (4.9%)

Woodbury County 5,197 (4.9%)

Largest Black population by school district

(School districts in alphabetical order)

Clear Creek-Amana 992 (5.7%)

Clinton 1,221 (5.1%)

College 2,327 (8.1%)

Council Bluffs 1,623 (2.8%)

Davenport 12,183 (11.3%)

Des Moines 24,354 (11.5%)

Dubuque 3,901 (4.9%)

Fort Dodge 1,788 (6.1%)

Iowa City 11, 786 (9.8%)

Johnston 2,232 (5.7%)

Linn-Mar 1,284 (3.2)

Sioux City 5,038 (5.8%)

Southeast Polk 1,608 (4%)

Urbandale 998 (4.6%)

Waterloo 12,316 (16.1%)

Waukee 2,306 (3.5%)

West Des Moines 3,679 (5.8)

Largest Black population by metro area

(In alphabetical order)

Aes Metro Area 3.320 (2.7%)

Burlington Metro Area 2,562 (5.7%)

Cedar Rapids Metro Area 17,004 (6.1%)

Davenport/Moline/Rock Island Metro Area 31,879 (8.3%)

Des Moines-West Des Moines Metro Area 39,565 (5.6%)

Dubuque Metro Area 4,126 (4.2%)

Fort Dodge Metro Area 1,825 (4.9%)

Fort Madison-Keokuk Metro Area 1,006 (1.7%)

Iowa City Metro Area 13,035 (7.4%)

Mason City Metro Area 990 (2%)

Muscatine Metro Area 1,141 (2.6%)

Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro Area 74,428 (7.7%)

Ottumwa Metro Area 1,469 (4.1%)

Sioux City 7,000 (4.7%)

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Metro Area 13,964 (8.3%)

The next time somebody asks an annoying question about whether there are Black people in Iowa, send them here.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top