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Celebrate Black History Month with Local DSM Events

Black History Month 2022

February 3, 2023

Whether you’re interested in ensuring your workplace has diversity certification or want to nominate a local business for their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, February is the perfect time to begin thinking about how to honor and support Black business owners in the region. Greater Des Moines (DSM) will hold a variety of events in honor of Black History Month. To support Black businesses and find Black history resources, check out the list below.

Downtown Events

The Story of Black-Owned Businesses in Iowa with The Iowa Center

The Iowa Center’s monthly series “The Story Of” will focus on Black entrepreneurs and small business owners in February. Hear from local panelists during the event, including Lily Okech, owner of Cleaning for Hope, Kourtney Perry, CEO of Privacy LLC, and Terrence Thames, CEO of Cocoa Creative Agency at Noon on Friday, Feb. 3. LEARN MORE>

Black History Month DMPL Events

An Authors Scavenger Hunt to celebrate Black History Month will take place at Central Library through Saturday, Feb. 11, while an Influential Figures Scavenger Hunt will take place Feb. 12 – 19 and again Feb. 21 - 25. Other scavenger hunts throughout the month include: Countries of Africa Scavenger Hunt (Feb. 6 – 11 at Forest), African American Artists Scavenger Hunt (Feb. 13 – 18), Harlem Renaissance Scavenger Hunt (Feb. 21 – 25 at Forest) and Awesome Black Inventors Scavenger Hunt (Feb. 21 – 28 at South)

At the East Side location, the children’s area will host the “I Have a Dream” Art Cart from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The Forest Avenue location will also host a reflection area with Black History books and visual records through the end of the month as well as an Iowa History 101 film presentation of “Iowa’s Black Migration: Into, Around, Out of and Back Again) from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. LEARN MORE>

Center Street First Friday Event at Mainframe Studios

Mainframe Studios will celebrate Black History Month during their First Friday event from 5 – 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3. The event will honor the history of Center Street, a hub of Black Culture and commerce when it was known as Sepia Club. LEARN MORE>

Drake University Black History Events

Race: Art and Activism Panel Discussion

Hear a discussion with community artists and activists, including Ako Abdul-Samad, Betty Andrews, Phillip Chen, Patti Miller and Nate Young. The event will be held at the Patty & Fred Turner Jazz Center from 5:30 – 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 in conjunction with the race exhibition display at the Anderson Gallery through Friday, Feb. 17. LEARN MORE>

Free Movie Friday

Also, on Friday, Feb. 3, see the historical events of The Kingdom of Dahomey in a movie showing at 9 p.m. at Sussman Theater at Drake University. LEARN MORE>

Winter Concert

See the Des Moines Community Orchestra perform for Black History Month during the Winter Concert at Sheslow Auditorium on Sunday, Feb. 12. A pre-concert talk will be held at 1 p.m., followed by the concert at 2 p.m. LEARN MORE>

If you can’t make it in person, watch the concert here.

Black History Month with the Iowa Wolves

Take part in the Black History Month Community Celebration at the Iowa Wolves vs. Texas Legends game on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Wells Fargo Arena. The game starts at 7 p.m. and will feature custom jerseys. This event is presented by Principal. LEARN MORE>

Across the Region

Black History Month Art Contest with Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa

Vote for one of 10 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa members who created artwork recognizing Black STEM icons from around the world. Public voting is open through Tuesday, Feb. 28 and prizes will go to first, second and third place. LEARN MORE>

Suspended at Johnston Public Library

See Suspended: Systemic Oppression in our Schools at the Johnston Public Library Feb. 4 – March 6. Consider the school-to-prison pipeline and explore ways to dismantle this system. LEARN MORE>

Black History Month Documentary Viewing at DMACC Newton Campus

The Des Moines Area Community College Newton campus will hold a Black History Month documentary viewing at Noon on Monday, Feb. 13. LEARN MORE>

Black History Month at Urbandale Public Library

The Urbandale library will host a Celebrate Black Artists Scavenger Hunt Feb. 15 – 28. At Noon on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the library will also hold a free, virtual program focusing on court decisions and laws impacting African Americans. REGISTER HERE>

Iowa Files: Scraps of African Heritage Workshop at West Des Moines Public Library

Hear a lecture on the history of African and African American quilting and construct a quilt block with colorful fabrics at this free event at the West Des Moines Public Library on Sunday, Feb. 19 from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. LEARN MORE>

Jordan House Tours

Friday and Sunday tours of Jordan House, a West Des Moines museum that once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, must be reserved ahead of time. Tours take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. LEARN MORE>

Want to support black-owned businesses? Check out the directory at tdcdsm.org. If you’re a local DSM CEO, sign the CEO Commitment to Racial Equity in DSM and take action to show your support for diverse hiring practices.

Looking for even more resources? Learn more about Black Iowans who influenced the world at Iowa PBS, including Civil Rights Activist Alexander Clark and Scientist George Washington Carver as well as the racial harmony of a small mining town — Buxton, Iowa.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Dr. Marvin DeJear

Dr. Marvin DeJear is the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Greater Des Moines Partnership and former director of the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families.