civil rights

WIKICOMMONS / Richc80

The city of Nevada’s Chief of Police says his department has arrested an Ames man who reportedly threatened to kill, brand, and cause bodily harm to a transgender high school student. The student's gender identity is reportedly why he was targeted by 65-year-old Mondell Olson. 

Olson is accused of leaving two voicemails with these threats on a Nevada Community School District phone line. Chief Ricardo Martinez says Olson also sent an inappropriate and unwanted text message to a district teacher that was sexual in nature.

Nancy Walleser

Though Iowa’s largest Women’s March took place in Des Moines on Saturday, several smaller sister marches were held around the state. The smallest occurred in Harpers Ferry, a town located in northeast Iowa with a population of less than 300.

Harpers Ferry march organizer Nancy Walleser says five people rallied in support of gender equality and other social justice issues.

"If you don't stand up, who will?" says Walleser.

John Pemble /IPR file photo

As many as 10,000 are expected to attend the Iowa Women’s March on Saturday. The Des Moines demonstration is one of dozens taking place across the country, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. 

"The whole point of this is to bring people together of all genders and backgrounds, so we can stand together in social justice and human rights issues that deeply impact all of us," says Sandy Mostaert, the state representative for the Iowa Chapter of the Women’s March. "Women’s rights are human rights."

There have been many protests in the United States recently. 

After Election Day, protests sprung up across the nation, the Black Lives Matter protests have been going on since 2013, and tensions have escalated at the Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota, where protesters stand against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

This hour on River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on protesting in America, from past to present.

John Pemble / IPR

In the 1920s, bar associations refused African American lawyers membership, so a dozen lawmakers formed their own in Des Moines. The founding of the National Bar Association in 1925 will be honored with a 30-foot statue this spring called “A Monumental Journey.”  It will be installed this spring in a downtown Des Moines park.

Civil rights education tends to focus on the past, but if recent events have taught us anything, it's that the work of the civil rights movement isn't finished.

Some teachers in Iowa are working to change the way that we talk about the civil rights movement, and to change the details we include about what happened. 

ACLU of Iowa

A long-time employee at the Iowa Women’s Prison in Mitchellville has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

According to the complaint, 34-year old Department of Corrections transgender nurse Jesse Vroegh is being denied access to male restrooms and locker rooms, but  is allowed to use unisex facilities instead.       

Flickr / Jeff Gitchel

The much anticipated ruling on felon voting from the Iowa Supreme Court will be released Thursday morning.

Iowa has one of the most restrictive felon voting policies in the nation.

It is one of three states that permanently disenfranchises someone if they commit a felony. 

That’s because Iowa’s constitution states anyone convicted of an infamous crime forever loses the right to vote. So what’s an infamous crime? The Iowa Supreme Court will likely tell us.  

Flickr / JohnPaulRichards

Gov. Terry Branstad says a proclamation he signed that encourages Iowans to participate in a Bible reading marathon and to read the Bible on a daily basis, “Until the Lord comes,” is not an affront to religious liberty.

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s concerned that the proclamation endorses a particular religion.  The organization says it never announces an intention to file a lawsuit, but it is reviewing options in this case.

But Branstad says he’s "astounded" people are upset since he’s not forcing anyone to read the Bible or pray.

Dianne Dillon Ridgley

Two events put Henry Hampton on the path to creating an award-winning documentary series about the Civil Rights movement. That's according to his friend, human rights and environmental activist Dianne Dillon Ridgley.

Courtesy of the Economic Policy Institiute

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has ignited a nationwide conversation about racial polarization and civil unrest when it comes to relationships with minorities and the police. 

Maria Filippone, Glori's mother.

Roosevelt High School student Glori Dei Filippone of Des Moines is being honored with the ACLU of Iowa’s annual Mannheimer Youth Advocacy Award. 

This past January the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based Christian group with anti-LGBTQ views, planned to picket East High School in Des Moines. The then-16-year-old Filippone and her friend Cole Rehbein organized a lunch-time “Love Rally” where they chanted messages of support for LGBTQ equality. Roughly 700 students from across Des Moines attended the rally.

IowaPolitics.com / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Iowa gained attention for the Supreme Court decision overturning a ban on same sex marriage. But the ruling was no surprise given the court's history.

Underwood & Underwood / Public Domain/Library of Congress

In Iowa, many of us are proud of our progressive history, but that doesn't mean we don't have skeletons in our closets, and even some Ku Klux Klan robes in the attic.  After World War I, life in Iowa changed dramatically, and a lot of people didn't like it.  That disorientation opened the door to the Ku Klux Klan.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with two historians from Mason City about the history of the Klan in Iowa.  We heard from numerous listeners whose families had direct experience with the KKK, including Larry in Des Moines.  Charity talked with Larry after the show, and he shared this st

Clay Masters / IPR

In 2009, the Varnum decision made Iowa the third state to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Fast forward five years later, and 17 states now sanction same-sex marriage, several others allow civil unions, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled a federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer takes a look at how public and political attitudes on same-sex marriage have shifted, as well as acknowledging the groups that have remained steadfast in their position.

The guests on today's program include:

Daniel R. Blume / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

On this News Buzz edition of the program, hear about a legislative shouting match, legalizing fireworks, the ACLU lawsuit against the Iowa Secretary of State, a survey of Iowans' thoughts on gay marriage, the Kepler mission, and a push to increase studying abroad.

Legislative shouting match and and other legislative fireworks:

ACLU lawsuit:

Same-sex marriage opinions:

Finding exoplanets:

Studying abroad:

Alexander Clark House

Knowledge is power and throughout history groups with power have denied it to others by limiting their access to education.  Even in Iowa, always a free state, the barriers to education for African-Americans were high.

Host Charity Nebbe speaks with Richard Breaux of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Kesho Scott of Grinnell College about the history of African-American students at Iowa's universities and colleges.

Lea VanderVelde

In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that a slave could not sue for his freedom. Many call this ruling the worst Supreme Court decision of all time. 

LSU Press

Millions of readers were captivated by the relationships between African American maids and the white families they served in the novel, "The Help."

Listen back to host Charity Nebbe's conversation with the authors and some of the people featured in the book, "The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South," which tells the true stories of people who lived that reality.

mikek7890 / flickr

In the summer of 1964, the Civil Rights Movement included many people with various backgrounds working together for a cause. University of Iowa Emeritus Professor of History Shelton Stromquist was one who put his life on the line to help the movement in Mississippi.  He joins host Charity Nebbe to talk about his experiences.

mikek7890 / Flickr

Thursday, August 28, marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.  Host Ben Kieffer looks back on this historic day with Rev. Milton Cole-Duvall who attended the March when he was a 19-year-old college student and former Iowa state Rep. Wayne Ford who was an 11-year-old boy living in Washington, D.C.

cool revolution / flickr

On Politics Wednesday on River to River, guest host Dean Borg talks about recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  Guests include political analysts Donna Hoffman, Professor and Chair of Political Science at University of Northern Iowa and Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa.  Iowa Congressman Steve King also gives his reaction to the rulings and gives an update on the Farm Bill from Washington D.C.

Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowans to discuss the news items of the week. He talks with teacher and administrator at Grundy Center Community Schools, Ann Lebo, about the education reform signed by Governor Branstad.

Iowa American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director, Ben Stone, joins the conversation to talk about the NSA phone record collection, the drone ban by Iowa City Council Members, and a recent ACLU report on racial disparity in marijuana arrests.

Many college students in Iowa have been and will be walking across stages to pick up their diplomas this month. Talk of Iowa speaks with two remarkable women who have been asked to send some of them off with words of wisdom.

Ballot Access in Iowa

Jan 10, 2013

Iowa is one of only ten states in the U.S. where people can register to vote on the same day they cast their ballot. Iowa is also one of the most difficult states in the nation for former felons to regain their voting rights. Host Ben Kieffer discusses ballot access in Iowa - we look at our state's changing policies on voting as well as the integrity of our election system.

A recent analysis shows Iowa’s civil rights complaints are being systematically dismissed at an alarming rate.  A study calls the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s handling of the complaints an indication of “a seriously flawed enforcement process.” Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with Arnold Woods, the President of the Des Moines chapter of the NAACP and Beth Townsend, the director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.  Then, Ben talks with Chris Merrill, the director of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.  Merrill recently returned from Afghanistan where he conducted a s