Rich Stories of Diversity Timeline.

Three different Americans living in three different generations have voiced the dream of what America could become. This 200+ year experiment in true democracy has had its ups and downs, but suffice to say that there have always been voices like Jefferson, King, Catt, and many others who cry out in the wilderness – beckoning us to rise about our pride, prejudice, and self-consumption.

Here at Our Iowa Heritage, we want to do our part as well. That’s why, as we write posts about the history of our state, our county, and our community, we not only want to share the powerful stories of those names most everybody knows, but we also want to strive to bring you those uplifting stories of men and women who, for no other reason than racial or sexual prejudice, have been overlooked in our history.

As our series Rich Stories of Diversity grows, we hope this timeline will help you see that here in Iowa, we do have a very rich heritage of those who have gone before us – lighting the way
Click here to access our Rich Stories of Diversity index.
  • 1912: The first African American women to graduate from the State University of Iowa were Letta (Cary) Bledsoe and Adah (Hyde) Johnson. Both were from Des Moines and received their degrees from the College of Liberal Arts on July 26.
  • 1915. The NAACP organizes an Iowa chapter in Des Moines – S. Joe Brown is the first president.
  • 1918. Mildred Whitcomb, of Ottumwa, Iowa, is named editor of The Daily Iowan, becoming the newspaper’s first female editor and one of the first women to head an American college daily newspaper.
Remembrance Park is devoted to the memory of the earliest Johnson County residents – the Meskwaki tribe, to Jenny – a Native American woman, to Mogawk -an African-American man, to the Phelps brothers – early fur traders in Johnson County, and to the handful of settlers who helped set up our county‘s government in January 1838. It’s this small group of individuals who guided our course towards a spirit of diversity – a hope we desire to carry forward today.

Click here to access our list of stories of those who have made a difference in this call for Unity Through Diversity…

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

10 moments that shaped Black civil rights in Iowa, Courtney Crowder and Andrea May Sahouri, Des Moines Register, June 18, 2021

Civil Rights: Celebrating 50 Years of Higher Quality Through Equality, Iowa Civil Rights Commission, 2015, pp 8-11

University Archives: Resource Guide to University ‘Firsts’, University of Iowa Libraries

A Timeline of Iowa’s Civil Rights History, City of Dubuque

The Meskwaki Nation website

Click here to go on to the next section…

Click here for a complete INDEX of Our Iowa Heritage stories…