Honoring Black History in Iowa: A WHO 13 Special Report

Honoring Black History
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DES MOINES, IOWA — February is Black History month – a national celebration of the important, and too often forgotten, role that African-Americans played in shaping our national history. In the year 2021, Black History Month arrives amidst a renewed push for racial equality across the country sparked by nationwide protests last summer in response to the extrajudicial death of George Floyd.

Those protests reignited a national discussion on race, a discussion as old as the nation itself. Its a discussion WHO 13 continued with a special one hour presentation, ‘Honoring Black History’, on February 10th.

Iowa has played an important role in the shaping of America’s laws regarding race and equality. Justin Surrency brings us the story of three monumental cases decided by the Supreme Court, beginning with its first ever hearing. Dan Winters and Jodi Long also take a look at how Iowa lawmakers are responding to the nation’s racial climate as well.

Governor Reynolds recently sat down with WHO 13’s Dave Price to discuss the protests over racial injustice that played out on American streets in the summer of 2020. Here is what the governor had to say about the path to equality:

For decades, Americans have been told that your hair needs to be sleek and straight, or its not professional. That rule may be simple for some to maintain, but for Black men and women it can mean using damaging chemicals to conform their hairstyle to stereotypical norms. There is legislation under consideration that could end those practices. Taylor Musgrove explains the C.R.O.W.N. Act.

Four of WHO 13’s own – Stephanie Johnson, Jodi Long, Mikayla Morris and Taylor Musgrove – know the struggles of ‘black hair’ all too well. They sat down for a frank discussion of how big a role their hair plays in their lives.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Waterloo-native, is the creator of a profound and controversial initiative from the New York Times called ‘The 11619’ project. It seeks to retell American history through the Black experience, beginning with the sale of the first African-native in the colony of Virginia in the year 1619. Hannah-Jones joined Dan Winters to discuss the project and why she says critics aren’t looking at the project from the right perspective.

Don Tate says growing up in Des Moines meant not seeing many faces like his on the shelves of the local library. But things have changed since then, and Tate has been one of the reasons why. Tate talked with Dan Winters from his studio in Austin, Texas about his career of telling the story of Black America through a child’s eye.

As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the one-year point, we are all eternally thankful for the service of front line workers in medical professions working to keep us all safe. WHO 13’s Stephanie Johnson has the story of some of the persons of color who are making a difference with their work to stop the coronavirus.

The story of Black Love in America has not always been one of romance. Jodi Long looks at the historic and continuing struggles to keep Black families together, and introduces a photographer who works to capture the beauty of Black Love.

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