Beyond the Proclamation Message from Iowa Legislative Black Caucus

Representatives Ras Smith, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ako Abdul-Samad, Ross Wilburn, and Phyllis Thede

Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Legislative Black Caucus hosted a virtual press conference this morning. Caucus Chair, Rep. Ras Smith shared a statement in response to Governor Reynolds’ Black History Month proclamation and actions of the Iowa GOP that are working to undo racial justice progress made in the past year. A link to watch the virtual press conference is at the end of the email.

“The path to racial equality is an uphill climb. Though it seems in 2021 in Iowa, the hill is getting steeper.

Instead of building upon the progress made last year, Black History Month was marked with GOP legislation that is taking Iowa backwards. From an attempt to ban the 1619 Project as a resource in Iowa schools, eliminating voluntary diversity plans, and the proposed “Back the Blue” legislation, we are not following in the footsteps of the advances in justice made through The Plan for a More Perfect Union.

The actions of this body stray far from the proud history that should light the way for Iowa’s future. We were the first state to desegregate public schools in 1868. Fifty years later, Black officers were the first in the nation to be trained for World War I at Fort Des Moines. Iowa’s history, while not perfect, has strong roots in leading our nation in creating inclusive communities.

Empty actions will be noticed. Policy that is discriminatory will be called out. It is time for the actions of Iowa leadership to go Beyond the Proclamation. This includes:

  • Expanding Iowa’s minority impact statements to all communities
  • Addressing cannabis reform
  • Implementing real anti-racial profiling legislation and supporting communities that seek to build meaningful relationships between law enforcement, brain health professionals, and communities of color
  • Prioritizing Black maternal health

Now that Black History Month has ended – we as Iowans must stay focused on the climb for justice. Now is the time to build a legacy of fairness and equity that will strengthen Iowa for generations to come.”


Virtual Press Conference Recording:

Passcode: v.cy6mkL