Black Migration and the Fight for Community Space in Iowa

In 1839 the first territorial government of Iowa past a series of laws that denied black residents citizenship rights like the right to vote, testify in court, act as jurors, or participate in the state militia. In addition to these restrictions, the legislature passed “An Act to Regulate Blacks and Mulattoes.” The act was intended to restrict and prevent the migration of black people to the state. Black Iowans fought back against these laws and created vibrant communities by building community networks, working with white allies to petition state lawmakers, appealing to the courts in their fight for freedom, and utilizing black military service.

This program is supported by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The views and opinions expressed by this program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities Iowa or the National Endowment for the Humanities.


About the Speaker

Dwain Coleman is a PhD candidate at the University of Iowa. In 2016 he earned his Masters degree in history from Iowa State University with the thesis ““Still in the Fight: The Struggle for Community in the Upper Midwest for African American Civil War Veterans,” which won the Iowa History Center Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis in Iowa History, He has previously presented at the Preserve Iowa Summit, Mormon History Association Conference, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and Muscatine Community College. His teaching interests include African American History, Nineteenth Century U.S. History, Civil Rights Movement, American Religious History, and Native American History.

About the Series:

Humanities Iowa has generously funded another series of presentations from visiting historians, professors, and lecturers. This year’s series will be tied to our current exhibit, Driven By Hope, which focuses on African American migration following the Civil War. The presentations are between February and July. Topics will focus on responses to migration – music, fashion, food, social responses, legal responses, and even some discussion on current migration and immigration issues. Be sure to join us for these free, engaging, and thought-provoking presentations!