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New Exhibition Honoring African American Suffragists Opens June 30: Exhibition Presented by a New Museum in Central Iowa


“Toward A Universal Suffrage: African American Women in Iowa and the Vote for All,” an exhibition that highlights and honors the contributions of African Americans to the women’s suffrage movement, opens at the State Historical Society of Iowa Museum on Tuesday, June 30.  The exhibition will be on view at the museum through July 31.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote in all elections.  This exhibition emphasizes the diversity and difference that existed in the women’s suffrage movement.  In their quest for the vote, all women faced discrimination based on their gender.  African American women faced racism as well.

“African Americans played an important role in gaining the vote for women.  Their efforts continue to have significance today as we once again try to confront racism in our society,” said Eric Morse, founding director of the Central Iowa Community Museum.  “African Americans continue to face obstacles to casting their ballots, including laws that require IDs to vote, restrictions on felon voting, removal from the voting rolls, and the closing of polling places.  The story of African American women winning the vote is just as much a story of today as it is of the past.”

The exhibition is organized by the Central Iowa Community Museum, the Iowa Department of Human Rights, and the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University.

The Central Iowa Community Museum is a new museum that is presenting temporary exhibitions before it finds a permanent home.  This is the museum’s first exhibition.  The mission of the Community Museum is to encourage people to engage in inclusive and critical dialogues that help Central Iowans understand each other and the important issues we must all face together.  The Community Museum’s exhibitions will be about the many people who call Central Iowa home and the issues important to them.

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“Toward A Universal Suffrage” will continue to tour throughout Iowa into 2021.  Visit for the complete schedule.

The State Historical Museum is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.  Admission to the museum and the exhibition are free.  Free parking is available at the ramp on the corner of Grand and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Funding for “Toward A Universal Suffrage” is provided by the Iowa State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Humanities Iowa, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Chrysalis Foundation.

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