The City will be hosting and co-hosting numerous events throughout February 2021 to commemorate Black History Month. The month will feature book clubs, presentations, lessons, and more, aimed at celebrating the impact Black Americans have had on our country, and educating people on the barriers Black Americans have faced, and still face today.

Below is summary of each City event listed in chronological order.

A graphic that says Black History Month, February 2021
'Their Eyes Were Watching God' book club & discussion

 The City's Black History Month book club centers on the iconic novel by Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston: "Their Eyes Were Watching God." 

Free copies of the book are available to the first 25 people who register. 

A Zoom discussion of the book will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Facilitated by Abena Sankofa Imhotep, Director of Sankofa Literary and Empowerment Group of Des Moines, the book discussion is hosted by the Office of Equity and Human Rights, and the Iowa City Public Library. 

Zoom Meeting Information 

Senior Center presents 'The 1619 Project'

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

The Senior Center will continue exploring and discussing the essays and multimedia content from The 1619 Project together throughout the month of February. New participants are welcome to join us in progress. Classes will be held at 11 a.m. every Friday in February, through Feb. 26, 2021. 

Registration required; call 319-356-5220 to sign up.

Library Sunday Fun Days

During the month, the Library will be dedicating their Sunday Fun Days to Black History. Each Sunday Fun Day features a book about African Americans that residents can get online through the Library, and a craft project that can be picked-up at the Library for free. 

Craft projects include a balloon tennis set, making a mini-tide pool, and creating a colorful phoenix out of tissue paper. 

Sunday Fun Days will be held on Feb. 7, 14, and 28. Crafts are available for pickup starting the Monday before. For complete information, and to register, visit the ICPL's website. 

Black history in Iowa City video series

This virtual program series highlights historic landmarks associated with African American History: the Iowa Federation Home and Tate Arms.  This video series is a collaboration of the Iowa City Office of Equity and Human Rights, The Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission, Friends of Historic Preservation, and City Channel 4.

This will be a two-part video series featured on the City's social media platforms, as well as City Channel 4's YouTube page and website. The schedule of video releases is as follows:

  • Noon on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021: The Iowa Federation Home
  • Noon on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021: Tate Arms
'Black Athletes Then and Now': Jackie Robinson Movie Discussion & UI Athletic Sports Panel

In this event presented by the Library, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the University of Iowa, we will discussing the Ken Burn's movie "Jackie Robinson," which is available on Kanopy, and the African American sports experience through the decades. A panel of athletes from the University of Iowa will be available to facilitate discussion, share their experiences, and answer your questions. 

The discussion will take place over Zoom at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. 

Register for the event at the Iowa City Public Liberty's website. 

Climate Action and Communities of Color
A groups for the Climate Action and Communities of Color event.

The Climate Action and Outreach Division is partnering with the Office of Equity and Human Rights to host "Climate Action and Communities of Color," a virtual conversation with Richard Mabion and Ayman Sharif from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, February 25, 2021.

Mabion is the founder and CEO of Building A Sustainable Earth Community, a Kansas City-based organization focused on supporting and fostering leaders of color in the climate movement. Through his organization and its annual Breaking The Silence Conference, Mabion has committed his life to addressing the absence of people of color in climate organizations by building multi-racial partnerships and movements at home, and by spreading his message and methodology to other communities. 

Mabion will be joined by Iowa City resident and founder of Global Food Project, Ayman Sharif, who will speak about climate action and his work promoting food justice at the local level. Sharif is a member of the Johnson County Food Policy Council and was the featured spotlight in the November 2020 Sustainability newsletter.

Past events

'Wonders of Buxton' presentation 

Graphic for presentation on Buxton, Iowa.

The City's Office of Equity and Human Rights has partnered with the African American Museum of Iowa to host a free virtual presentation on the history of Buxton, Iowa, an early 20th century town where African Americans were welcomed with little racism and discrimination. 

Entitled "Wonders of Buxton," the presentation will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, via Zoom. The presentation will transport curious minds back to the first decades of the 20th century to Buxton, a bustling mining town that was referred to as a utopia for the majority of the town's residents: African Americans. 

'Endless Possibilities: Iowa's African American History'

Iowa was the first state in the U.S. to officially integrate its public schools in 1868, just three years after the Civil War ended. Surprised? This and so much more is part of Iowa’s wealth of African American history. From York, the first African American in Iowa and member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, to the first Black president, Barack Obama, African American history is American history, and Iowa has many stories to share.

This Zoom program will be presented at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, by the African American Museum of Iowa with support from the Senior Center and TRAIL of Johnson County. 

'Unconditional Loyalty' presentation 

A graphic promoting a presentation about African Americans serving in the military.

Discover the proud history of African American service people in the United States military from the Revolutionary War to the present through this Zoom presentation from the African American Museum of Iowa and the City's Office of Equity and Human Rights. Topics include African American Iowans in the Civil War, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, desegregation of the armed forces, and many more.

This Zoom program will be presented at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021

Date of publication

Friday, January 29, 2021