Iowa’s civil rights history boasts many early freedoms for Black citizens, many long before such laws were passed nationally. In 1868, Iowa was the first state outside of New England to grant Black men the right to vote, two years before the Fifteenth Amendment. In 1884, the Iowa legislature passed an Iowa Civil Rights Act, outlawing discrimination in barbershops, theatres, hotels and on public transportation. In 1892, another law was passed making discrimination illegal in restaurants. While Iowa was just the fourth state in the country to pass such laws, they were largely ignored. Eventually, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission was established to enforce the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965. Slowly, legal injustices were reversed, but Black Iowans continue to experience racism and discrimination across urban and rural landscapes today.
This June, Iowa PBS presents Telling Our Own Story, four films produced by Black Iowan independent filmmakers providing insights on topics that have dominated recent headlines and Black culture since Iowa became a state. The unique perspectives of these filmmakers show what life is like for Black Iowans and provide a window for other cultures to see where similarities and differences exist.
Racism and Its Impact — Monday, June 6 at 8 p.m.
Filmmaker Terrence Thames explores the basis for how racism took hold in Iowa and why it persists.
Poverty and the Wealth Gap — Monday, June 6 at 8:30 p.m.
Terrence Thames explores the journey of Black Iowans navigating the nuances of generational wealth.
Black History — Tuesday, June 7 at 8 p.m
Professor Venise Berry and filmmaker S. Torriano Berry spotlight Black Iowans who have made their mark on the state and world.
Ending Racism — Tuesday, June 7 at 8:30 p.m.
Journalist Ty Rushing explores racism and discrimination across rural and urban landscapes in Iowa.
An advance online preview of Telling Our Own Story will be hosted by Iowa PBS Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. Attendees will get to see a sneak peek of this powerful series before it airs on statewide Iowa PBS. Following the clips, David Miller, executive producer and director at Iowa PBS, will continue the conversation with filmmakers. Through the online shared media viewing platform, audience members can discuss the films and ask questions during the live discussion. For more information and to register for free, visit iowapbs.org/events.
In addition to its statewide broadcast, Iowa PBS .1 is available to livestream on iowapbs.org/watch, pbs.org/livestream, the PBS Video App and YouTube TV. Iowa PBS programs, behind-the-scenes extras and more can be enjoyed on iowapbs.org, Facebook and YouTube. Viewers can also stream their favorite shows on demand using the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android and many streaming devices.
Learn more at iowapbs.org.