FAYETTE, Iowa– Several students of Upper Iowa University traveled to the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids recently to learn more about Black History Month.
To provide an additional avenue for UIU students to celebrate Black History Month, geoscience professor Dr. Katherine McCarville leads the tour group each year. The UIU Office of Student Development sponsors the costs, and Dr. McCarville volunteers as the driver/guide. The participating group members visit the museum exhibits and are served an ethnic lunch. This year’s menu included Japanese food.
The 2015 tour group included UIU students from Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan. The students learned a great deal about the history of African Americans in Iowa and the United States. They particularly enjoyed “Behind the Beat,” an exhibit that explores the history of African American music from its roots in Africa to the present day, McCarville said. African influences on American music are traced all the way from work songs and spirituals through rock and roll, to modern hip-hop. The museum encourages visitors to play drums, other African instruments, and play selections from a jukebox.
Located in downtown Cedar Rapids, the African American Museum of Iowa was established in 1994 and has since become one of the leading educational resources on African-American history in Iowa. The Museum educates over 30,000 people annually through exhibits, tours, family and youth education programs, a summer camp, community and fundraising events, and other statewide programs.
The African American Museum of Iowa houses “Endless Possibilities,” a permanent exhibit tracing Iowa’s African-American heritage from its origins in western Africa, through slavery, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, Civil Rights struggles, and the many contributions continuing to be made today. Each of the interactive exhibits engage visitors through historic events that occurred in Iowa.
“I enjoy introducing students to the history of African-Americans in Iowa. The permanent exhibition at the Museum actually mentions the black farming community near Fayette, which many students find surprising,” said Dr. McCarville, while explaining many students are unaware of a black cemetery, located just north of Fayette.
“I am interested in encouraging and valuing diversity, and have served as co-chair of UIU’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion. In addition, as LSAMP Campus director, I coordinate UIU’s participation in the Iowa Illinois Nebraska STEM Partnership for Innovation in Research and Education (IINSPIRE),” she added,
Dr. McCarville explained IINSPIRE is funded by the National Science Foundation and is an alliance formed among 16 two-year and four-year colleges and universities. The alliance works together to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the Midwest. The grant work emphasizes addressing the need to remove the barriers impeding student progress and success in STEM fields, before education and workforce disparities widen.
“We achieve our goals by focusing on transitions from high school and community college to undergraduate studies, ensuring rigorous academic and research preparation, and providing students with access to financial resources,” she closed.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 5,800 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus, 25 U.S. education locations, as well as locations in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree programs. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.