Celebrate Black History Month in Des Moines

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Celebrate Black History Month in Des Moines 2023

February is the celebration of Black History Month. This is a time we celebrate and recognize African American history, contributions, struggles, and achievements. A time to remind your children that black history is American history, and should be thought of as such. Not only is it a time to remind our children, but an opportunity for us as parents to learn. We are sharing several ways to celebrate Black History Month in Des Moines and start conversations the entire month of February.

Here are activities and events to celebrate Black History Month in Des Moines:

African American Museum of Iowa

Plan a small road trip! The African American Museum of Iowa is located in Cedar Rapids and is a museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and teaching Iowa’s African American history.

The current exhibit explores the history of redlining in Iowa in our latest exhibit. Redlining is the systematic denial of various services by federal and local government agencies and the private sector to residents of specific neighborhoods. Black populations in seven Iowa cities -Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Dubuque, Davenport, Des Moines, and Waterloo – were subject to redline mapping. The exhibit will look at these cities and the long-term effects of redlining on the current issues faced in these areas today.

Black History Month: Authors Scavenger Hunt

January 29 – February 11 at the Central Library

Visit the Central Library Children’s Area for a scavenger hunt celebrating Black authors!

Explore Visual Black History

February 1 – 28 at the Forest Avenue Library

Drop by the Forest Avenue Library to look at photo books, graphic novels, and other visual records of Black history. These books are available to check out year-round! For now, we’re pulling them out with tables, chairs, and supplies to reflect if you’d like to.

Countries of Africa Scavenger Hunt

February 6 – 11 at Forest Avenue Library

Travel around the world this week at Forest with a Countries of Africa scavenger hunt! Kids can learn about the people, history, and culture of different countries in Africa and if they find them all they win a prize!  Best for ages 6+

Black History Month: Influential Figures Scavenger Hunt

February 12 – 19 and February 21 – 25 at the Central Library

Visit the Central Library Children’s Area for a scavenger hunt celebrating influential figures in Black history!

Awesome Black Inventors Scavenger Hunt!

February 15 – 18 and February 21 – 28 at the South Side Library

Kids! Visit South and try our Scavenger Hunt! Drop in and search the library for all of the items on the sheet and win a prize. For youth ages 3 and up.

Iowa History 101: Iowa’s Black Migration: Into, Around, Out of, and Back Again

February 21 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Forest Avenue Library

Join the Forest Avenue Library for a film presentation from the State Historical Society of Iowa. We’ll be watching one Iowa History 101 film each third Tuesday from February until November. This month, genealogist Ricki King, owner of Roots to Branches Genealogy, presents a journey of Iowa’s Black history, starting with Iowa’s statehood, that illustrates some of the reasons why families and individuals moved to Iowa, moved around Iowa, left Iowa, returned to Iowa and then left again.

Support local black-owned restaurants

Looking to eat out? Support local and black-owned restaurants. Set a weekly goal to try somewhere new. Here is a list of some of our favorites.

Visit The Jordan House Museum

I personally remember field trips to The Jordan House Museum when I was little. I remember each visit being an eye-opening experience and learning so much. During the antebellum period, the Jordan House was a designated stopover on the Underground Railroad. Freedom-seeking slaves hid in the fields, barns, and outbuildings on the property. No one knows for sure, but historians estimate that 1000 per year made the attempt. Most who tried did not have the benefit of someone like John Brown or Harriet Tubman and were not successful.

Tours are offered every Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Visit the Kerry James Marshall Sculpture

Jump in the car and make a visit to the Kerry James Marshall Sculpture located along the Principal Riverwalk at the corner of Grand & 2nd Avenues in Hansen Triangle Park. Learn more about this sculpture and how to incorporate an entire lesson around this incredible project in Downtown Des Moines.


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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