Iowa Museums Examine Race and History on MLK Day

Jan 17, 2016

Two Iowa museums are offering special programming on Martin Luther King Day today, that examines the country's complicated history with race.

The African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids is giving a presentation on Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. It's also screening a documentary on the Children’s March, a protest which was part of the 1963 Birmingham Civil Rights campaign. 

While some concepts might be difficult for younger audience members to grasp, Museum Educator Krystal Gladden says it’s important to teach kids they can help make society more equal. 

"There are people who have affected change your age, younger than you, older than you," Gladden says she tells young museum-goers. "You still have a voice in this. If you see something that's wrong, then speak up about it. If you see somebody who's being bullied, who's being treated unfairly, then it's OK for you to say something."  

In Des Moines, the Science Center of Iowa is offering free admission for the exhibit "Race: Are We So Different" and to the rest of the museum. The exhibit examines if race truly exists through the lenses of human evaluation and variation, U.S. history, and how culture treats race today.

"I think we can all recognize that it's a topic that people kind of struggle to approach in their daily lives," says Exhibit Developer Andrew Poppen. "We're excited at the Science Center to provide a venue where people can have those discussions, and really think about it and look internally."   

The Science Center is also having talking circles throughout the day, so people can discus topics the exhibit presents.