civil rights

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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.

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:

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.

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.

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