Diversity

Amy Mayer/IPR

If Dow and DuPont succeed with their proposal to merge and spinoff three companies, one focused on agribusiness, the new companies will open a fresh chapter in the corporate histories of two titans of American industry.

Flickr / Katy Warner

A Muscatine woman argued at the Iowa Supreme Court that since the employment of immigrants is regulated by the federal government, she’s protected from state identity theft charges. How the high court rules has significant implications for Iowa's undocumented immigrant community. 

In 1997, 11-year-old Martha Martinez came to the US as an undocumented immigrant. In 2014 she was charged with using a fake identity to gain employment.

University of Iowa Press

Between the 1930s and the 1960s, northern universities became a destination for black students from the south looking for the kinds of opportunities they didn't have access to back home.  The process of integrating Iowa's public universities was long and slow.  Black athletes and artists were among the first students to cross the academic color line in Iowa City.   This hour, we'll hear about a new book that tells the stories of many of the black students who were among the first to study at the University of Iowa.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa State announced this year’s inductees to the Iowa African American Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Inductee James B. Morris Jr. was the first black assistant Polk County attorney, had a distinguished career as a trial lawyer, and was one of the first African American officers to lead white troops in the US war effort. Kenyatta Shamburger, the director of multicultural student affairs at ISU, says the hall of fame is a bit of a family tradition for Morris.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The annual Borlaug Dialogue, a week-long celebration of global food and agriculture in conjunction with the World Food Prize, is underway in Des Moines.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who grew up in Muscatine, said today when he first went to the World Bank, economists there were reluctant to give cash assistance to help people out of poverty. But he said that has changed. Now, they see that offering both money and services, like education and healthcare, can lift children out of poverty.

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

If you have a child between the ages of nine and fifteen, or if you’re just a fan of mythology, it’s likely that you’ve heard of author Rick Riordan.

The New York Times bestselling author is most famous for his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which follows the adventures of demi-god teens as they navigate the world of the Greek gods, monsters and the challenges of middle school.

Riordan drew his inspiration for the series from his fifteen years as a middle school English and History teacher, as well as from his older son.

S Pakhrin

History is written by the victors, and for hundreds of years, that has meant that the history of indigenous people in the U.S. has been simplified, twisted, or simply ignored.

Rob Dillard

Iowa’s Secretary of State is reminding voters with disabilities there are methods in place to help them cast ballots. This applies to military veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, as well.

It’s estimated between six-and-ten percent of the 300,000 Iowans with disabilities vote. The percentage for the overall population may approach 70 for this year’s election.

Tai Tomasi is a staff attorney with Disability Rights Iowa. She’s also blind. She says technological advancements have improved her ability to go to the polls.

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa State Extension's Women in Agriculture Program is recognizing several Iowans as Women Impacting the Land. The awards celebrate farm work ranging from traditional row crops to livestock to perennial trees and nuts. Madeline Schultz, the director of the Women in Agriculture program, says the increased awareness of women's contributions to farming inspired the awards.

Rob Dillard

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Center for Lesbian Rights brought their Rural Pride Summit to Des Moines Thursday. It offered a chance for the rural LGBT community to talk about their economic, health, legal and social concerns.

Des Moines was the 13th stop in the series, which began in 2014 as a way to increase the visibility of the LGBT community in rural America.

It’s estimated that almost 10 percent of same-sex couples live in rural areas of the country.

Growing up on their family farm in West Bend, Iowa, Haley Banwart and her brother Jack were like any other farm kids. They did chores, participated in 4-H and even raised cattle together.

"My brother and I have had the same amount of responsibilities," says Banwart, 22. "I can drive a tractor, I can bale square hay. But it was just expected that my brother would return home."

Her family never really discussed it. "It was always kind of the unwritten rule," she says. "My brother would go back and farm" — and she'd find another path.

niXerKG / Flickr

Recent videos of police shooting unarmed black men and recent shootings of police officers have led to increased unrest between two groups already used to tension.

On this edition of River to River, Joyce Russell hosts the final conversation of Iowa Public Radio’s “Beyond Iowa Nice” series by bringing black Iowans and police together to talk about what can be done to ease tensions between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Eagle Lake in Evansdale is home to the nationally-ranked competitive water ski team known as the Water Hawks.  The lake is small, only 15 feet deep. It’s usually buzzing with skiers practicing for their next show, but one day each July it’s transformed into a playground for people with mobility limitations.  

Fourteen-year-old Suzanne Shoemaker has cerebral palsy and earlier this week, was here at the adaptive ski clinic near Waterloo for the second time.

Drake University

Some of the African continent’s most promising young professionals are in Iowa for the next several weeks picking up tips on how to run businesses. They are part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program run by the U.S. State Department.

The founder of Kemin Industries, R.W. Nelson, recently greeted the 25 young people from 19 countries at his corporate headquarters in southeast Des Moines.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Hundreds of central Iowans held a vigil in downtown Des Moines to mourn the lost lives in the Orlando mass killings. They came in support of the LGBT and Hispanic communities, and to call for tougher gun laws.

One Iowa, the state’s largest advocate for LGBT rights, organized the gathering in the sculpture park downtown. 

Politicians, civil rights leaders and local clergy paraded to the mic to call for an end to what they called senseless violence in America.

Deanna Edwards of Des Moines had family reasons for being in the crowd.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A class of fifth graders at Saint Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines are reaching a milestone. The students are coming to the end of six years of taking all of their coursework in Spanish. 

The 10- and 11-year olds are native English speakers. They have been completely immersed in a second language since kindergarten. Eleven-year-old Tyler Faris wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he began learning in Spanish at the age of five.

“I felt kind of nervous because it was a whole different language and I barely knew English,” he says.

John Pemble

A new art exhibit with works by troubled teens about social justice issues is now in a downtown Des Moines gallery. The effort is organized by ArtForce Iowa, a non-profit group working with teens going through the court system.  The centerpiece was created this spring in a classroom at the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center.  

Victor Daly / Ft. Des Moines Museum

Nearly 100 years after the Army's first black officers' training program debuted in Iowa, dozens of old photographs have been discovered showing what life was like when Fort Des Moines was gearing up for World War I. 

The country's oldest African American fraternity returned to its early roots this month when the Fort Des Moines Museum welcomed members of Alpha Phi Alpha in remembering their brothers from generations ago. In 1917, the national fraternity helped recruit black college students to become officers, and a racial barrier was broken. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

We hear a great deal about attempts to recruit young women into the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Well, there’s another profession with a relatively small number of females, one that combines science with art. There's currently an effort to draw more women into architecture, and keep them in the profession.

When Barbara Welander enrolled in the architecture program at Iowa State in 1962, she was one of eleven women in the freshman class. When she graduated five years later, she was the only female remaining.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Doctors and nurses in military hospitals after World War Two saw the benefits of music.

They watched their patients improve under its sway. In recent years, scientists have shown it has special powers as we grow older. 

It doesn’t take musician Bill Connet long to win over his audience at Wesley Acres retirement community in Des Moines.

S Pakhrin / Flickr

In 1948, two small lines in a congressional bill meant quite a big deal for Iowa’s sole Native American tribe. In an unfunded mandate from the federal government, the Act of 1948 designated Iowa would take over judicial jurisdiction of the Meskwaki settlement from the federal government.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A growing number of schools across the country are providing more services to make life easier for students who have fallen behind in their coursework. Things like food banks and day-care centers. An alternative high school in Des Moines has become the first in the state to install an on-site dental clinic.

Dental assistant Jenny Hen has just ordered high school junior Dustin Elliott to open wide as she begins a thorough cleaning of his teeth.

Monica Reyes, founder, Dream Iowa

A Latino advocacy group is working hard to get voters out to their precinct caucuses on February 1st.  

They have ambitious goals for how many Latinos will participate.  An immigration expert says their targets are realistic.  

Close to a hundred Latinos gathered on a recent Sunday at Grandview University in Des Moines.   Part of the agenda was to learn how the Iowa caucuses work.    

Christian Ucles walks them through a typical Democratic caucus, where supporters of a certain candidate gather together in a group in a corner of the room.     

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Some students at Mount Vernon High School have spent a couple of weeks this month stepping out of their comfort zones. They’ve traveled to nearby Cedar Rapids to meet people they would otherwise not encounter in the hallways of their almost entirely white school.

The Iowa legislature made history Monday by swearing in its first woman as Speaker of the Iowa House.   There was bipartisan praise for Republican Linda Upmeyer.   But the bipartisanship was lacking in opening-day speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders in  the Senate.  

“I am honored to nominate Linda Upmeyer of Cerro Gordo County to be the first female speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives,” said Mount Ayr Republican Cecil Dolocheck, putting Upmeyer’s name before the Iowa House.   She officially replaces former House Speaker Kraig Paulsen.  

Joshua and Lori Kagavi

Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium and Drake University’s Johnny Bright Field are memorials to two African American football players whose college careers ended tragically and prematurely due to violence on the field. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe revisits the stories of these players and the lesser known story of Ozzie Simmons, who played for the University of Iowa in the 1930s.

Pat Blank/IPR

The Meskwaki Tribe near Tama has been awarded a one-point-six million dollar grant from the U.S Department of Human Services.

The money will be used over the course of five years to expand the tribe’s forty acre produce farm known as Red Earth Gardens.

Economic Development Director Larry Lasley says part of the project’s mission is to revitalize the Meskwaki customs of seasonal growing and gathering.

He says the purpose is, “to continue those traditions and help promote and teach younger family members to carry on that heritage."

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

In a small school district in Southeast Iowa, five young women are taking the future of science education into their own hands.

They’ve designed a proposed building addition that would provide room for students to experiment in science, technology, engineering and math.

Design team member Riley McElderry at Cardinal High School in Eldon says the project began by asking some simple questions.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A small group of students at the University of Dubuque is holding some difficult conversations about race. A new initiative there is designed to get young people thinking about racial differences in order to bring the campus closer together. 

At the start of a three-hour session on a Sunday afternoon, Roger Bonair-Agard reminds the dozen or so students what he expects from them as they begin a series of writing exercises.

March of Dimes

Iowa earns a grade of C on a report card issued by the March of Dimes.

The rating measures the rate of premature births in the state, and it shows a disparity between the races.

The percentage of babies born before full term in Iowa is 9.3.

For blacks, it’s 11.7 percent.

The state director of programs and advocacy for the March of Dimes, Michelle Gogerty says it’s not clear why this disparity exists.

She says the state chapter is working to do something about it.

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