Community Call for Loan Objects

Do you consider yourself an activist? Have you attended protests, created a piece of artwork, or been part of a group making change in your community? The AAMI is looking for objects (buttons, signs, t-shirts, hats, stickers, artwork, etc.) and photographs documenting the black experience in modern activism including BLM, sports protest, MeToo movement, and LGBTQ rights both nationally and in Iowa. Our 2020-2021 temporary exhibit Unwavering: 21st Century Activism will look at modern social movements and activism and the black experience within them. Please contact our Curator Felicite Wolfe at for more details or to suggest possible loan items.

AAMI Introduces New Accessibility Programs

The African American Museum of Iowa is excited to announce two new partnerships that will increase accessibility to the Museum for people of all backgrounds. Through the Museums for All and Adventure Pass programs, we will be able to offer free and reduced admission to members of the Cedar Rapids community and beyond who may otherwise be unable to visit the Museum. 

Museums for All, a signature access program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), administered by the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) encourages people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum-going habits. The program supports those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits visiting the African American Museum of Iowa for a minimal fee of $1 per person, up to four people, with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Similar free and reduced admission is available to eligible members of the public at more than 500 museums across the country. More information about Museums for All and a list of participating museums can be found at

Adventure Pass allows adults (18+) with a valid Cedar Rapids Public Library card to access free admission to museums and other cultural institutions across the state. These passes cover up to 4 people and can be accessed at

The African American Museum of Iowa has committed to these accessibility initiatives because “barriers to access equal barriers to education,” stated Executive Director LaNisha Cassell, “The AAMI’s mission to ‘preserve, exhibit and teach’ must be available to all.”

These new partnerships are part of the AAMI’s ongoing initiatives to ensure that our exhibits are accessible to all audiences. In addition to these programs, the AAMI will continue to offer Museum Day and Blue Star Museums admission. Museum Day (April 4) is an annual event presented by Smithsonian Magazine in which museums across the country offer free admission. Blue Star Museums admission will begin on May 16, providing free admission to active military personnel and their families.

Museum Day Tickets Now Available

Museum Day is an annual celebration of boundless curiosity hosted by Smithsonian magazine. Participating museums and cultural institutions across the country provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. The Museum Day ticket provides free admission for two people on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

To obtain your free pass, register at the Museum Day website.

2020 Gala Registrations Now Open!


Registrations are now open for the 2020 History Makers Gala! Stay tuned for updates on this year’s honorees.

Gala Registration Form

$ 60
Personal Info

Billing Details

Donation Total: $60

Juneteenth Vendor Registration Now Open

We are looking for vendors to join us for our 2020 Juneteenth celebration at NewBo City Market! Space for this event will be limited, so vendor applications will be reviewed on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you would like to participate, please fill out the form below. Any questions may be directed to LaNisha Cassell.

Nikee Museum Store Holiday Sales


Visit the Nikee Museum Store December 3 through January 4 for special weekly savings!

Week of December 3

10% Off All Books, T-Shirts, & Mugs

Week of December 10

20% Off All Cards, Stationary, & Ornaments

Week of December 17

25% Off All Batik & Jewelry

December 26-28

25% Off All Figurines, Wall Art, & Candle Holders

January 2-4

20% Off All Soapstone, Baskets, & African Masks


Offers may not be combined with any other sale, promotion, discount, code, coupon and/or offer. Promotions have no cash value. Offer cannot be sold or otherwise bartered.

Z 102.9 Community Spotlight

Earlier this month Communications Associate Jennifer Beall did a Community Spotlight interview with Z 102.9’s Eric Hanson. Listen below to learn about our upcoming October events! This interview originally aired on Sunday, September 22.

Get to Know Dr. Simon Estes

Dr. Simon Estes will be the Lifetime Achievement Honoree at our annual History Makers Gala on October 3. Get your tickets today to be part of this special event.

Born in Centerville, Iowa, in 1932, Dr. Simon Estes first singing experience came at age eight when he performed with the choir in Centerville’s Second Baptist Church. From those humble roots, Dr. Estes would become one of his generation’s greatest bass-baritones.

After enrolling at the University of Iowa in the late 1950s as a pre-med and psychology major, Dr. Estes became the first African American member of the university’s Old Gold Singers. His voice caught the attention of Iowa music faculty member Charles Kellis, Estes’ first and only vocal teacher.

Dr. Estes won the Bronze Medal in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky competition in 1966 and it signaled the launch of his international career. He would go on to build a global reputation and win numerous awards and accolades while performing with 84 of the major international opera companies as well as 115 orchestras around the world. He also advocated for more opportunities in opera for African-American performers.

Even as Estes achieved stardom on stage, he helped others in Iowa and elsewhere through many philanthropic efforts. He has also inspired new generations as a teacher at music schools around the world including Wartburg College, Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and Des Moines Area Community College, all in Iowa.

Learn more about Dr. Estes work on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Meet the 2019 History Makers


Lorinda L. Ampey is a vital leader in the community as the Director of Programming and Outreach at the Boys & Girls Club. She is living her dream working with youth and upholding the promise she made to herself after a very traumatic school experience. Lorinda’s promise was that if she ever had the opportunity to work with youth, she would never treat them differently because of the color of their skin. She has kept that promise throughout her career. Lorinda began her work with youth at the Jane Boyd Community House where she spent eight years learning how to successfully plan and implement youth programming with the help of Suzy Beshears. In 1998, after the tragic loss of her daughter, Briahnna, she took a hiatus from youth work until 1999 when she started her career again at the Boys & Girls Club.

Lorinda is a member of The Professional Association of Boys & Girls Clubs and has continued to educate herself throughout her career. She has received many accolades for her endless work in the community including the Viola Davis Yes I Can Award, the NAACP Outstanding Community Service Award, the Iowa Association for Colored Women Award, and the Arc of East Central Iowa Community Inclusion Award. However, if you ask Lorinda, she has received no greater accolade than the one she receives when a mentee goes on to be successful. She defines success, not by what you have, but by who you have become.


Marie Christian has over twenty years of experience as an educator, career counselor, consultant, and Prevention Professional. Her positions have included serving as In-Touch Coordinator for the Rock Island County Council on Addictions and Assessment Specialist for the Scott Community College Career Assistance Center. She has served as Project Director for federally-funded substance abuse prevention grants, CSAP and as an instructor for local colleges in communication, diversity/multicultural relations and other business subjects. Certified Surrogate Parent for Illinois Children. Marie is a recipient of several statewide Master Teacher Awards, as well as the American Association of University Women’s Scholarship. She has served on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts and the Youth Service Bureau and is a member of several community governing boards, the Davenport Schools Curriculum and Development Planning Board, and the NAACP 2nd V.P. and Educational Co-Chair.


Dr. Raynard S. Kington has served as President of Grinnell College since 2010. Prior to Grinnell, he held multiple positions at the National Institutes of Health including Principal Deputy Director and Acting Director. Prior to NIH, he was a division director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Senior Scientist at RAND. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, where he serves on the Governing Council. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education. He attended the University of Michigan, where he received his B.S. with distinction and his M.D. He received his M.B.A. with distinction and his Ph.D. with a concentration in Health Policy and Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His research has focused on social determinants of health and more recently on diversity in the scientific workforce.



Registered Nurse, Bridget Saffold, is employed in an internal medicine clinic that treats kidney and diabetic patients. She serves as the coordinator of the Cedar Valley and Cedar Rapids Focus on Diabetes, a grassroots diabetes initiative endorsed by the State of Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, that partners with accredited doctors and world-class healthcare organizations to share the latest research, treatment options and free screenings with diabetic patients, their families, and the community.
Additionally, Bridget serves as the diabetes adviser for a 6.5 million-member, faith-based organization offering education and coordination support for their state, regional, and national conferences.

In June, she truly made history when she hosted a party for Presidential Candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. That event marked the first time in history that a high-profile presidential candidate campaigned at someone’s home on the east side of Waterloo. During this event, Bridget shared her personal story and advocated for healthcare reform.



Read on to learn more about Dr. Simon Estes, 2019 Lifetime Achievement honoree!



Brianna Kim Celebrates Six Years at the AAMI

Brianna Kim photo

Brianna Kim, Director of Operations

Interactive section of Products of a Creative Mind, 2015-2016 temporary exhibit

This month we’re celebrating Brianna Kim’s sixth year as a member of the AAMI staff! Brianna joined the Museum’s team as a curator in August 2013. In that role, she curated three of our past exhibits: Behind the BeatProducts of a Creative Mind,  and Mightier than the Sword. Not only did she plan and research these exhibits, but she also developed interactives, oversaw design, and wrote the copy for panels and labels.

In February 2017, Brianna became the Museum’s Director of Operations. In this position, Brianna has been responsible for overseeing and improving the administrative and operational aspects of the organization, from creating new on boarding practices for employees and volunteers, to managing the annual audit process. Brianna is also well known to many of the Museum’s volunteers, as she manages the volunteer recruitment and orientation programs.

Originally from the town of Albia in Iowa’s Monroe County, Brianna attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where she obtained a BA in History, and completed her MA in Museum Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC. She lives with her husband Arthur Kim, seven-month-old daughter Edith, and Moses, a one-year-old lab mix.

Please join us in congratulating Brianna on all of her excellent work making sure that the AAMI can continue to be a quality resource for learning about Iowa’s African American heritage!