African American

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa African-American Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding achievements of African-Americans who have enhanced the quality of life for all Iowans. Since its inception in 2002, 65 Iowans have been inducted into the IAAHF. This year, they inducted four.

Kesho Scott

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.

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. 

Washington Area Spark / Flickr

In May of 1917, the first class of African-American officers in U.S. military history were trained at Fort Des Moines.

Chad Williams, associate professor of African and African-American Studies at Brandeis University, says the fight to establish the class was an arduous one. Joel Spingarn, a white man and former NAACP leader, struck a deal with the General Leonard Wood: if he could find 200 acceptable candidates, they would create a training camp for them. In the end, 1200 men came to train, and 639 graduated.  

WIKICOMMONS / Klaus with K

Iowa’s NAACP chapter is asking state lawmakers to pass a number of significant criminal justice reforms this year. The organization says these reforms will improve the lives of African-Americans in Iowa who are arrested and incarcerated at disproportionately high rates.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Two African-style hair braiders in Des Moines are suing the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences.

Hair braiders in Iowa are required to complete 2,100 hours at a licensed cosmetology school and pass an exam, even though these requirements generally don’t train or test the practice of African-style hair braiding. The lawsuit says Iowa code is burdensome, arbitrary and impair a hair-braider’s “constitutional right to economic liberty.”

University of Iowa

Women's health pioneer Byllye Avery has for more than 40 years been on the front lines of the women's heath movement in the United States.  It was her husband's sudden death at age 33 that was the catalyst for her commitment to improve the health of the African-American community.   She told IPR that it was 1970 and she and her husband, who was close to getting his doctorate, had two small children and a third child on the way.  But she says the health care system at the time did not make it clear to them how deadly high-blood pressure could be and her husband tragically died of a massive h

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.

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.

Robert and Talbot Trudeau / flickr

Since 1995, the Iowa African American Hall of Fame (IAAHF) has been selecting the most influential black Iowans to be recognized for outstanding achievements.  Guest host Dennis Reese talks with the three inductees selected for 2013: Jane G. Burleson, Betty Jean Furgerson, and William B. Hood, Jr.  The IAAHF is housed at the Black Cultural Center at Iowa State University.   Since its inception, more than 50 people have been chosen for this honor, including Iowa State Agricultural College graduate George Washington Carver. 

Maid Narratives

Feb 5, 2013
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. Now a new book tells the true stories of people who lived that reality. Host Charity Nebbe talks 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.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we listen back to a program from September of last year. As part of IPR's Being in Iowa series, we examine the African-American experience in Iowa. Ben's guest's are Waterloo East High School Principal Dr. Willy Barney, counselor Shannon Harrington and Des Moines University Medical Director Dr. Carolyn Beverly.

All this week Rob Dillard has continued his series, "Being in Iowa," on Iowa Public Radio with a look at the African-American experience in the state. Today we wrap up this week's series with a discussion about the gaps that exist between African-Americans and the rest of the country: gaps in the areas of education, jobs, and health. We'll find out what's behind those gaps and how we can cover them. Guests include Waterloo East High School Principal Dr. Willy Barney, Shannon Harrington - the owner of a counseling business in Waterloo, and Des Moines University Medical Director Dr.

Today, Iowa Public Radio concludes its five-part series on African-Americans in the state. Reporter Rob Dillard has looked into the issues they face in the areas of education, employment, politics and health. He ends with a story about faith. The church has historically played a crucial role in the lives of many African-Americans.  It has been in the pews of black churches where they’ve found comfort and inspiration. Rob takes us to a Sunday-morning service in Waterloo where parishioners are charting their paths toward spirituality.

Iowa Public Radio’s week-long look at African-Americans in the state continues today with reporter Rob Dillard considering the multiple health risks they face. Blacks have a higher propensity than whites for such chronic diseases as diabetes and heart disease. The occurrence of infant deaths among African-Americans in Iowa is at three times the rate of whites. Rob talked to a number of health professionals about why this is and what, if anything, blacks can do to lower the risks.

Today, Iowa Public Radio continues its look at African-Americans living in Iowa. So far, reporter Rob Dillard has examined some of the educational and economic challenges they face. Now he turns to the political scene. There have been very few black politicians elected to public office in Iowa – none to statewide office. Rob met with some of these African-American leaders to find out what their time in office has meant to the state.

Today, we continue with our “Being in Iowa” series. All this week, IPR reporter Rob Dillard is asking the question, what does it mean to be African-American in the state? Nearly a third of all blacks in Iowa live below the poverty line. They earn on average less than half of white households, and their unemployment rate is more than double the overall state figure. Rob introduces us to three African-Americans, who are working to improve their economic standing with some assistance along the way.

Today, Iowa Public Radio returns to its series “Being in Iowa.”  Reporter Rob Dillard has been exploring what it means to be Latino, a military veteran, and Muslim in the state. Now, he shifts his attention to African-Americans. The 2010 census pegs the number of blacks living in Iowa at nearly 90-thousand, or just below three percent of the total population. Most of them are clustered around the urban centers of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Waterloo.