The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, first visit to Iowa in 1959. Establishment of the Committee on Human Rights in 1963. Students who volunteered in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964. A spring practice boycott by Black football players in 1969. These events – and more – are documented here.
Sixteen black players on the UI football team boycotted the first day of spring practice in April 1969, protesting “intolerable conditions” for blacks at the University. At issue were several grievances, including demands for expanded scholarships and greater availability of academic counseling.
In 1972, Harvard professor Richard Herrnstein was invited to speak at UI, only to be turned away by a crowd of over 600. His controversial views on race prompted debate addressing racism and freedom of speech.
“Philip G. Hubbard was born March 4, 1921, in Macon, Missouri. His mother was a school teacher in Missouri’s segregated school system. With her children in mind, she moved her family to Iowa when Philip was four, because schools there were integrated, and she took a job as an elevator operator in Des Moines. Hubbard graduated there in 1939 from North High School where he was active in band, orchestra, chorus, biology club, freshman football, and was on the National Honor Society. By the time of his graduation, he had saved $252.50 for college. As he recalled in his 1999 memoir, “My Iowa Journey: The Life Story of the University of Iowa’s First African American Professor,” this was accomplished by shining shoes for 15 cents per pair at the Hotel Savery. He elected to attend the University of Iowa over Iowa State, because he could shine shoes at the Jefferson Hotel in Iowa City for income. Tuition at Iowa was $50 per semester.
Black men were not allowed to live in University housing. Instead, they found…”
The Afro American Cultural Center opened in 1969, the first of several such centers at UI intended to address the needs of historically marginalized groups.
According to Vice Provost Philip Hubbard, it was an early success, as noted in this 1970 university news release.
From its inception, the Afro American Cultural Center has offered workshops and programs for people of all ages, including children. This 1971 flier advertised an activity workshop for children ages 4 to 10.
From a 1970 brochure for the Afro American Cultural Center.
The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1964 initiated Freedom Summer, an effort to register African Americans in Mississippi to vote. SNCC’s local chapters throughout the U.S., including UI, were active on the home front as well. In March 1965, local members staged an 8-day hunger strike in front of the downtown Iowa City post office to raise money for civil rights workers in Selma, Alabama.