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National Black Voter Day Events Held Across Iowa Friday

September 18 is National Black Voter Day. Started by a partnership between the National Urban League, BET, and 40+ other organizations, the Day has caught on.

In Iowa, the Iowa Democratic Party, Biden for President Iowa, and the Iowa Democratic Black Caucus have partnered to host eight events around the state to help Black voters.

“We will have voter registration forms, absentee ballot request forms,” said Iowa State Rep. Ras Smith, a senior advisor for the Biden-Harris campaign who coordinated all the events. “We will help them make a vote plan, giving them information about voting dates.”

Given COVID-19, things will be handled as safely as possible. Masks and social distancing will be required. The locations are as follows for Friday:

Black Hawk County
Start Time: 6:00 PM CT
Location: African American Cultural Center, 1320 E 4th St, Waterloo, IA 50703
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

Muscatine County
Start Time: 4:00 pm
Location: The Salvation Army of Muscatine County, 1000 Oregon St, Muscatine, IA 52761,
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

Webster County
Start Time: 5:00 PM CT
Location: H.C. Meriwether Park, 10th Ave SW, Fort Dodge, IA 50501
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

Pottawattamie County
Start Time: 4:00 PM CT
Location: Mount Zion Refuge Church, 3031 7th Ave, Council Bluffs, IA 51501
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

Woodbury County
Start Time: 5:00 PM CT
Location: New life Church of God & Christ, 2929 W 4th St, Sioux City, IA 51103
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

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Polk County
Start Time: 6:00 PM CT
Location: Evelyn K Davis Park, 1400 Forest Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

Scott County
Start Time: 6:00 PM CT
Location: Centennial Park, 315 S Marquette St, Davenport, IA 52802
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

Linn County
Start Time: 1:00 PM CT
Location: African American Museum of Iowa, 55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
Event Attendance: Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP HERE.

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Other communities that are not part of the eight above are also planning events. In Ottumwa, the League of Women Voters, Ottumwans for Racial Justice, and LULAC are collaborating on an event 11:00-2:00 and 4:00-7:00 at South Hy-Vee, 1025 N Quincy, Ottumwa.

In choosing the locations, the idea was to have each event held at a culturally significant location, if possible. In Waterloo, the selection was the African American Cultural Center, also known as the “Boxcar Museum.”

“Most of the African Americans here in Waterloo came up for employment on the railroad,” said Sonja Lee Bock, President of the African American Cultural Center. “A lot of people were recruited from Mississippi. They weren’t told they were strikebreakers. So when they got here, they met with a lot of anger and violence. Some of them, when they got here, were only allowed to live in the boxcar.”

Rep. Smith is really excited about the Day.

“I think Iowa is one of the leading states with so many sites that we’re going to have from Woodbury County all the way to Muscatine and places in between,’” he said. “Iowa is a state with a Black population under 4%—give or take a half percentage point—even still, we’re showing that Black voices and Black votes are important. And I’m really excited to be empowering people to walk into the voting booth with confidence, understanding what some of the changes are this year to decrease fear about the changes in the voting process and really empower people.”

To keep the momentum going beyond National Black Voter Day, Biden for President Iowa announced the creation of the Black Leadership Council. The Council will be made up of the following Black Leaders from around the state:

  • Rob Johnson, Corinthian Baptist Church Associate Minister
  • Ako Abdul-Samad, Iowa State Representative
  • Ross Wilburn, Iowa State Representative
  • Ruth Ann Gaines, Iowa State Representative
  • Phyllis Thede, Iowa State Representative
  • Stacey Walker, Linn County Supervisor
  • Deidre DeJear, Candidate for Iowa Secretary of State and Des Moines Small Business Leader
  • Quentin Hart, Waterloo Mayor
  • Al Womble, Iowa Democratic Party Black Caucus Chair
  • Frantz Whitfield, Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church Pastor
  • Vicki Brown, Black Hawk County Democrats Chair
  • Helen Miller, Iowa Board of Parole Chair
  • Umaru Balde, University of Iowa International Health, Safety & Security Adviser
  • Esaie Toingar, Wake Up for Your Rights Founder and President
  • Royce Ann Porter, Johnson County Supervisor
  • Flora Lee, Woodbury County Democrats Affirmative Action Chair
  • Athena Gilbraith, Iowa Democratic Party Black Caucus Secretary
  • Monique Wooten, Muscatine Iowa Democrats Black Caucus
  • Vera Kelly, Davenport Community Leader
  • Wayne Ford, Former Iowa State Representative
  • June Owens, Iowa Democratic Party 1st Vice Chair

Smith is happy that the people on this list are movers, those who want to get things done, and that it’s inclusive of all Black Iowans. He’s also likes the diversity of their experiences.

“What we built is a list of Black leaders across the state who are leaders for more than just being Black, leaders in the Black community. People like Helen Miller, who have Ag connections and Wayne Ford who led on lead levels in Iowa for children,” Smith said.

 

by Rachelle Chase
Posted 9/17/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

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