Celebrating Black History Month: Black Iowa News invited Black Iowans to share their feelings about the importance of teaching Black history, voting rights and more — in their own words.
Here’s the final installment from former State Rep. Wayne Ford, who founded Urban Dreams in 1985 in response to violence in Des Moines. The Iowa African American Hall of Fame inductee has a history of blazing trails. In the 6th grade, Ford said God guided his hand to write the story of his life. Two of the items he wrote: He would be in charge of a community center and involved with politics. ✅✅
Ford, 70, has defied expectations his entire life — first as a youth in D.C. where he said his high school classmates voted him least likely to succeed. A football scholarship brought him to the Midwest. He graduated from Drake University. As a legislator from 1997-2011, Ford led Iowa to become the first state in the nation to institute racial impact statements. Ford also co-founded the Brown-Black Presidential Forum.
These days, Ford is a community consultant at Broadlawns Medical Center, and he mentors Iowa’s next leaders.
Black History Month is over, but thankfully Black history is glorious and ongoing. Thanks so much to everyone who shared their views and helped celebrate with Black Iowa News for Black History Month 2022.
‘Dear Black Iowans, you’ve got more to be proud of with your legacy of Black history than most Black people in America’
Former State. Rep., Wayne Ford, founder of Urban Dreams, Des Moines
Program commemorating Wayne Ford’s retirement from Urban Dreams. Program courtesy of Ford.
Iowa is one of the greatest states when it comes to Black history.
- The author of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah Jones, she’s from Waterloo —1619 is affecting the whole country. The whole country is connecting the dots. That’s from Iowa.
- African Americans were trained to fight in World War I. Only one state responded, and that was the state of Iowa. Fort Des Moines.
- The National Bar Association was founded here. No other states did those kinds of things.
- Jack Trice. Johnny Dee Bright. George Washington Carver.
Iowa African American Hall of Fame award. Photo courtesy of Ford.
Dear Black Iowans, you’ve got more to be proud of with your legacy of Black history than most Black people in America.
As we look at Black History Month, I hope that we’ll be able to celebrate American history. If we cannot combine and look at the American dream for all of us, it doesn’t matter — Black history or white history. If we keep going the path we’re going, sooner or later there will be no history. It’s all about culture and tradition. If we can’t become the American culture, sooner or later there will be no history to talk about. The common denominator is we’re all Americans.
Read: Black History Month reflections by Black Iowans
- Top Black Iowa Democrats: ‘Black history is Iowa’s history’
- Black Iowa parent: Teaching history without Black culture is ‘reminder of how systemic racism continues’ its cycle
- Black Iowa activist, TEDx speaker: ‘Survival is our cultural ethos’
- Black Iowa professor, musician: ‘If it were left up to my schools, I would have never learned the truth of my history’
- Black Iowa lawmaker slams Black History Month tributes at the state Capitol by those seeking ‘to block Black History being taught’
- Black Iowa community servant: ‘When I think of all the things Blacks have endured in America, I am inspired’
- Black Iowa businesswoman: ‘We aren’t just slavery and civil rights or any other uncomfortable parts of history’
- Black Iowa mayor: ‘Seize this unique moment’ to make Black history
- Black Iowa political candidate: Don’t vote solely on political party affiliation, vote ‘intellectually’
- Black Iowa Democrat: ‘Our community has been targeted for voter suppression and misinformation’ since US founding
- Black Iowa domestic violence advocate: ‘I really didn’t know much about Black history except Martin Luther King and ‘I have Dream’
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Banner: Black History Month art by Christopher Harrison, of Harrison Art Studio.
Learn about Carter G. Woodson and the origins of Black History Month.