**If you would like to add your research to this site please contact: venise-berry@uiowa.edu

African American Research Conducted in Iowa

African American Genealogy in Des Moines Iowa
Many people think it's impossible for African Americans to trace their family history, Oh yes you can! Group meets first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 pm at the Iowa Genealogy Society located at 628 East Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa 50309. For question or if interesting in participating in group, leave a message for Judy McClain African American Interest Group facilitator at 515-276-0287. Join the group and help shine a light on African American History in Iowa.

Iowa Center on Health Disparities, African Americans in Iowa: A Snapshot of Health Disparity Issues
African Americans have been in Iowa since before the first census in 1850, but were less than 1% of the population until 1970. Currently they make up 2.2% of the population. While slavery was never permitted in Iowa, institutional racism was law. In 1844 the constitutional convention unsuccessfully tried to keep Blacks from being or becoming state residents. The constitution of 1857 gave Blacks property rights and legal standing in courts, but deprived them of the rights to vote, sit on juries, and be members of the General Assembly. However, in 1868, not only did Iowa start admitting African Americans to public schools but also became one of only five states to give Blacks the vote (seventeen states refused). Between 1960 and 1990 discrimination in schools and employment was reduced through anti-discrimination laws and Black activism. However, housing discrimination still exists.

Queen Street Radio http://www.iowainitiative.org/
It is a highly entertaining radio show that offers help with important issues like effective family planning and available clinical services. Sponsored by the Iowa Initiative for Reducing Unintended pregnancies. This research project is coordinated by Professor Shelly Campo at the University of Iowa in the College of Public Health.

The Iowa Initiative Research Program is a set of five studies designed to increase knowledge, persuade adult women to seek and access contraception if they wish to delay or prevent pregnancy, and improve contraceptive behaviors in this group. Led by Dr. Mary Losch, the Iowa Initiative Research Program is based at the University of Northern Iowa in the Center for Social and Behavioral Research. With its five-year timeline, the program is designed to impact thousands of Iowa women. The first year of the program (2008) was devoted to project development and the collection of detailed qualitative and quantitative information that will provide the foundation for the individual project interventions that began in 2009 and continue through 2011. Through the intervention period and during 2012, the success of the projects will be evaluated and the findings at both the state and national level. The research program is a collaboration that includes academic expertise of faculty and research professionals at three universities: University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa and University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Strong African American Families The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS)

Principal Investigators: Ronald Simons (UGA), Carolyn Cutrona (ISU), Frederick Gibbons (Dartmouth University), Robert Philibert (University of Iowa)
Funding Agencies: NIMH, NIDA, Centers for Disease Control
Year Project Began: 1995 How do family, community, and genetic influences affect well-being among middle-aged African American women? (Cutrona) How do these influences affect well-being among African American teens as they make the transition to adulthood? (Gibbons) What factors influence the development of depression and antisocial behavior among African American young adults? (Simons) What genetic and gene-environment interaction factors contribute to the development of depression, substance use, and other health problems among African American women? (Philibert).

FACHS is a large-scale longitudinal study involving more than 800 rural African American families in Iowa and Georgia. The initial criterion for study participation was the presence of a 9- or 10-year-old in the home. Throughout the first 10 years of the study, four assessments were conducted with these target youth and their primary caregivers, secondary caregivers, and older siblings. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided supplementary funding to support exploration of community influences. In 2007, NIH provided 5 years of funding that will support additional data collection with the primary caregivers and their romantic partners, the older siblings, and with the target adolescents who are now emerging into adulthood (some of beginning families of their own), their close friends, and their romantic partners. During this project period, the study will also begin to focus on gene-environment interaction and its influence on participants' emotional and physical health.

Iowa Women’s Archives University of Iowa Library
African American History Project Nine interviews with African Americans (predominantly women) from different parts of Iowa formed the basis of a research project conducted by Frances Hawthorne in 1992. In the "Frances Hawthorne Papers."

African American Women in Iowa Oral History Project
Sponsored by the Iowa Women's Archives. Fourteen interviews conducted between 1996 and 1997. Audiotapes and transcripts. In the "Giving Voice to their Memories: African American Women in Iowa Oral History Project" Collection.

African American Organizations in Iowa

The University of Iowa

African American Council
The mission of the African American Council (AAC) is to promote and improve the quality of life of African American faculty, staff and students at the University of Iowa. The African American Council is poised to address the changing needs and concerns of African Americans on campus. To this end, through service and action, the AAC promotes awareness of important African American concerns and contributions to the University, while advancing the University's commitment to diversity and academic excellence.

Afro American Cultural Center
Known as the Afro House, this space provides a supportive and inclusive environment and programs that empower students, faculty, staff and community members to excel in their endeavors, stretch themselves to experience diversity, engage in activism, make positive choices, and serve their communities. The Afro American Cultural Center was established in 1968 to create a space for Black students from different cultural backgrounds to adjust to University life. In preserving Black culture, the center provides an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to share their cultural knowledge and educate the entire community.

Black Student Union
The Black Student Union is where students dedicated to unifying and uplifting our community members and promoting a constructive interest in the rich and diverse culture of the African and African-American community at the University of Iowa can contribute and build togetherness. studorg-bsu@uiowa.edu

Center for Diversity and Enrichment
The mission of the Center for Diversity & Enrichment is to bring to life the UI's commitment to create a diverse and welcoming climate with a critical mass of students, staff and faculty from communities underrepresented in higher education. This office provides the primary leadership and coordination for outreach and service to underserved and minority communities for pre-college student development and recruitment, and for developing and sustaining programs and activities that support the ability of minority and underserved students from diverse backgrounds to increase their skills to thrive and succeed at The University of Iowa.

The Hubbard Group
As a group of men affiliated with the University of Iowa as faculty, staff, and students, we seek to follow the legacy of Phillip G. Hubbard, the first tenured African American professor at the University of Iowa. Our goal is to offer programming, events, and services that:

  1. foster a more inclusive community of learning, support, retention and success among African American men at The University of Iowa.
  2. provide educational resources to the University and Iowa City community about the various attitudes and performances that men of African descent embody.

SROP/McNair Program
The SROP/McNair Scholars Program is for you if you are interested in a challenging research experience.  The combined program strives to prepare young investigators to achieve their goals of pursuing graduate work and of becoming tomorrow's academic leaders.  Students receive first-hand exposure to the graduate school experience and to faculty life by being paired with a faculty mentor whose work is closely related to your academic interests and career goals.  You can choose among opportunities in Biological Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, or Social Sciences and will work with your faculty mentor either on an individual basis or as part of a research team.   

The CIC/Iowa Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) is an award winning program designed to provide promising underrepresented undergraduate students with in-depth research experiences.  Each student plays an active role in identifying the area of study and a faculty mentor to work with.  Explore research opportunities at Iowa that will lead to doctoral degrees in Education, Humanities, or Social Sciences. 

The UI McNair Scholars Program is a federally funded program that is committed to providing talented undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds with opportunities to pursue research projects.  These experiences are designed to promote your successful transition into doctoral degree programs.  At Iowa, join a research team and begin that journey in the Biomedical/Life Sciences, Engineering, or Physical Sciences. 

Upward Bound
Upward Bound is a program for high school students who are considering continuing their education after graduation.
In Upward Bound you will:

Upward Bound is for students who:

State organizations

Ongoing Covenant with Black Iowa (OCBI)
The Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans exists to promote the interests of African-Americans in the State of Iowa and in doing so, fosters the well being of the State's entire citizenry.

In the spirit of equity, inclusion and responsiveness this Commission, in partnership with the
broader African-American community shall:

The State Data Center of Iowa and the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans in Iowa: 2010
To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week beginning on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. The Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans exists to promote the interests of African-Americans in the State of Iowa and in doing so, fosters the well being of the State's entire citizenry.

In the spirit of equity, inclusion and responsiveness this Commission, in partnership with the broader African-American community shall:

Iowa Civil Rights Commission
The mission of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is enforcing civil rights through compliance, mediation, advocacy, and education as we support safe, just, and inclusive communities. The Commission's major duty is to enforce state and federal statutes that prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, education and credit by investigating and litigating civil rights complaints. In addition, the Commission provides conflict resolution services and mediation for civil rights matters. The Commission actively educates the public to prevent discrimination, biased conduct and stereotypes.

Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans (ICSAA)
The Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans (ICSAA) is a state agency that exists to address the needs and concerns of Iowa's African-American citizens. Since it was established by the Iowa Legislature in 1989, the ICSAA has been a division of the Department of Human Rights and serves as an advocate for African-Americans in Iowa. The ICSAA is composed of nine citizens representing different regions of the state. Each is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate. The director, who administers the Division on the Status of African-Americans within the Department of Human Rights, is also a gubernatorial appointee and confirmed by the Senate. The Director of the Department of Human Rights serves ex officio.

The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project is a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration. The Sentencing Project was founded in 1986 to provide defense lawyers with sentencing advocacy training and to reduce the reliance on incarceration. Since that time, The Sentencing Project has become a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system with a successful formula that includes the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns and strategic advocacy for policy reform. The Sentencing Project is dedicated to changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment.

Community Organizations

African American Museum of Iowa
To preserve, publicize, and educate the public on the African American heritage and culture of Iowa. The heritage of African Americans in Iowa was in danger of being lost without major efforts to preserve it. In 1994, a small group from Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids began the project in celebration of Black History Month.

African American Heritage Center, Davenport
519 E 9th Street
Davenport, IA 52803-5411
(563) 326-7652

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a measurable impact on youth. Our vision is to match a Big to every child who needs and wants one. We are able to accomplish this mission through three specific programs. Community-based mentoring, School Buddy matches and the Academic Mentoring Program are the three areas we believe are making a BIG difference in Johnson County. Learn more about how to Enroll Your Child. Looking to Volunteer?

The programs of BBBS of Johnson County have proven not only valuable with over 800 matches, but also effective. In addition, while volunteers agree to a one-year commitment, the average length of a match is more than two years. In fact, many of the relationships continue into the children's adult lives. Volunteers report the following results for children matched at least six months:

Children of Promise
Children of Promise, Inc., was established to provide financial assistance for programs to aid needy children in ministries of the Church of God* outside the United States. The organization desires to have a program in every developing country where the Church of God has functioning congregations. Children of Promise, Inc., is affiliated with the Church of God, headquartered in Anderson, Indiana. It was started jointly in 1992 by the Women of the Church of God and the former Missionary Board of the Church of God (now Global Missions). In 2002, Children of Promise was granted official non-profit status. As an independent non-profit organization, its ties to the Church of God are fundamental. Children of Promise collaborates with Global Missions and other divisions of Church of God Ministries, Inc., as it carries out its ministry to children around the world.

NAACP of Eastern Iowa
The NAACP insures the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority groups and citizens; achieves equality of rights and eliminates race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; removes all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes; seeks to enact and enforce federal, state and local laws securing civil rights; informs the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and seeks its elimination; and educates people of their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action in furtherance of these principles.
Presently the NAACP pursues its goals by working along four main lines:

NAACP Des Moines
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization . Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities and monitor equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. The Des Moines Branch NAACP was founded in 1915. The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights for all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.

The Spot (Parkview Church)
Provides a safe, nurturing atmosphere where youth are able to learn and grow while participating in healthy, fun, Christ-centered activities. The vision of a Christ-centered youth center developed through years devoted to youth through the Upper Room ministry of Parkview Evangelical Free Church. Upper Room saw the need to counter pressures such as drugs, gangs and teenage pregnancy. In attempt to better serve the increasing number of youth attending Upper Room, The Spot was created. Located in close proximity to the majority of its attendees, The Spot offers a message of hope and invites today's high-risk youth to discover new and abundant life.


United Action for Youth
Nurturing the potential of all youth to create, grow and lead. Our vision is one in which young people and adults work together in partnership to create a safe and healthy community.


Urban Dreams
Since the mid-80s, Urban Dreams has been providing Des Moines' inner city with a wide range of human service programs in a comfortable and non-threatening environment. Just as the problems that plague the inner city continue to evolve, Urban Dreams continues to change to combat them. Urban Dreams offers programs that are in tune to the unique issues impacting Polk County's economically depressed areas. Programs including information and referral and ex-offender support are just some of the services that Urban Dreams offers at no cost.

Founded in 1985 by Wayne Ford, Urban Dreams has become a community staple. Ford's dream was to build a program that would provide an array of human services to those who needed it most but were unable to find it through traditional channels. The philosophy behind Urban Dreams is to offer services that meet the ever growing and constantly changing needs of our community. Urban Dreams' non-traditional model of providing human support programs has become a model for human service/community agencies helping other communities throughout Iowa and the country.

In an effort to ensure that community residents have access to the provided services, Urban Dreams' doors are open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon. In addition, every member of Urban Dreams' staff remains on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Urban Dreams' building also serves as a meeting facility for other community organizations and has become a "safe haven" where people can come to watch TV, use the telephone or just relax. Urban Dreams has served as an urban social services training ground for counselors and social workers, some of whom have gone on to start their own organizations.

Urban Dreams works closely with area churches, Polk County government, area colleges and universities, and numerous other organizations and businesses mutually committed to the betterment of the community. Along with the funding and support of contributing individuals and corporations, these organizations see their participation as an investment in the future of Des Moines and the state of Iowa


Antioch Baptist Church, Waterloo
At Antioch we are Disciples of Christ. The Church of Three Ships: Worship, Friendship, and Fellowship. Where Worship is produced by our daily devotion with God. Where Friendship is produced by our Love. Where Fellowship is produced by our relationship with Christ. Here at Antioch we are Kingdom Building.

Bethel A.M.E. Cedar Rapids
512 6th Street Southeast
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401-1920
(319) 363-1251

Bethel A.M.E. Clinton
303 S 3rd St
Clinton, IA 52732

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Iowa City
The mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel through word and deed. At every level of the connection, the A.M.E. Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and serve the needy through a continuing program of preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, cheering the fallen, providing jobs for the jobless, administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and mental institutions, senior citizensʼ homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed, and encouraging thrift and economic advancement.

New Bethel Baptist Church, Perry
1624 Rawson St
Perry, IA 50220

Burns United Methodist Church, Des Moines
811 Crocker Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-1205
(515) 244-5883

Coppin Chapel A.M.E. Fort Dodge
329 1st Avenue South
Fort Dodge, IA 50501-3705
(515) 576-0073

Corinthian Baptist Church, Des Moines
We are members of the body of Christ, loving and living, giving and growing, teaching and learning remaining faithful while on earth and looking forward to our savior's second coming

Greater Love Church of God in Christ, Des Moines
1440 De Wolf Street
Des Moines, IA 50316-2720
(515) 265-5734

Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids
To share the gospel of Jesus Christ to multi ethnic, diverse, families of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and adjacent cities. Our calling, compassion, and commission is to: "Imparting the Word and Impact the World" Luke 4: 18, 19

Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Sioux City
Our aim is to develop every believer to the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that they may be a valid witness that Jesus the Christ of God is active in the world today and his presence is manifest in every believer in their conduct, conversation, and choices to the Glory of God the Father.

African American Fraternities

Alpha Phi Alpha (Alpha Theta)
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. develops leaders, promotes brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities.

Iota Phi Theta
As Iota Phi Theta continues to grow and strengthen, so will its commitment to make meaningful contributions to society in general, with particular emphasis in the African-American community. Throughout America, Iota Phi Theta® has come to represent excellence in all areas. The Fraternity is, and shall forever remain dedicated to its founders' vision of "Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!"

Kappa Alpha Psi
Kappa Alpha Psi was founded on the campus of Indiana University on January 5, 1911. The Fraternity's fundamental purpose is achievement.

Membership is a solemn commitment. To this Fraternity, the maker of the commitment becomes synonymous with the commitment itself. Membership in Kappa Alpha Psi is a lifelong dedication to the ideas and lofty purposes of Kappa Alpha Psi, which considers for membership only those aspirants whose personal, social and academic qualifications are acceptable to both the College and Fraternity. Expectations concerning maturity and dedication are made upon new members and established members alike.

Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is a professional organization of educated men with similar ideas and like attainments. The fraternity's founders chose Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift as the cardinal principles that every prospective candidate must possess. Our fraternity's motto is "Friendship Is Essential To The Soul." Since the birth of the organization, Omega has and will continue to impact the world in every profession and all walks of life.
Candidates must exhibit the qualities of the Fraternity's.

Four Cardinal Principles:
Manhood – Being appropriate in character and marked by moral excellence, courage; bravery; and resolve. Scholarship – Demonstrating an attitude toward education, learning and being informed by achieving or exceeding and maintaining the minimum educational requirements of the fraternity. Perseverance – Exhibiting a “spirit” of brotherhood, togetherness, humility, cooperation, and a willingness to go an extra mile for the goal sought, as a responsible first-class citizen. This can be demonstrated by presenting obstacles overcome, awards received and honors issued. Uplift – Sharing ones gifts with the community in the form verifiable aid, activism and leadership.

Phi Beta Sigma
“Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”

African American Sororities

Alpha Kappa Alpha
The small group of women who organized the Sorority was conscious of a privileged position as college-trained women of color, just one generation removed from slavery. They were resolute that their college experiences should be as meaningful and productive as possible. Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded to apply that determination; however, its influence extends beyond campus quads and student interest. It has a legacy of service that deepens, rather than ends, with college graduation.

The goals of its program activities center on significant issues in families, communities, government halls and world assembly chambers. Its efforts constitute a priceless part of the global experience in the 21st century. Since its founding over a century ago, Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mission has been to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of “Service to All Mankind.

Delta Sigma Theta
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. A sisterhood of more than 200,000 predominately Black college educated women, the Sorority currently has over 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Republic of Korea. The major programs of the sorority are based upon the organization's Five Point Programmatic Thrust:

Sigma Gamma Rho
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority's aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmark of the organization's programs and activities. Sigma Gamma Rho addresses concerns that impact society educationally, civically, and economically.

Zeta Phi Beta
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was founded on the simple belief that sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations - to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day. Founded January 16, 1920, Zeta began as an idea conceived by five coeds at Howard University in Washington D.C.: Arizona Cleaver, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, Fannie Pettie and Pearl Neal. These five women, also known as our Five Pearls, dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for black women and sought to establish a new organization predicated on the precepts of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love and Finer Womanhood. It was the ideal of the Founders that the Sorority would reach college women in all parts of the country who were sorority minded and desired to follow the founding principles of the organization. Founder Viola Tyler was oft quoted to say "[In the ideal collegiate situation] there is a Zeta in a girl regardless of race, creed, or color, who has high standards and principles, a good scholarly average and an active interest in all things that she undertakes to accomplish."

updated March 1, 2013