Our Liberties We Prized

It's deep in the negatives for temperature today and the bus is far, far away. So this post, I'm departing from chronicling adventures and doing some civil hygiene. Thoughts on Iowa's first in the nation caucus status:


Iowa used to be progressive. It had first in the nation status on so much more than primary elections. It’s not a purely demographic issue to say that Iowa shouldn't be First in the Nation anymore, as seems to be the point of contention in the argument. The racial landscape absolutely doesn't represent our country as a whole, but that's not the only reason we need to let go.

In today's Iowa, governor Kim Reynolds seeks to remove choice from women’s reproductive lives with constant attacks on Roe v. Wade. Iowa republicans seek to impose needless limitations on medical cannabis, and to veto its legalization at every turn. Iowa scoffs at water quality and sanctions on animal cruelty and environmental concerns around animal farming. Reynolds and the conservative Iowa legislature continues Branstad’s legacy of burying Iowa’s progressive history.


It pains me to say it as a fiercely proud, feminist, progressive Iowan, but progressive ideals don't rule our state anymore, and it shouldn't hold such sway over the country as it (hopefully) moves forward. This is no longer Governor Robert D. Ray's state which championed refugee resettlement efforts during the 60s and 70s. It's no longer the state that pioneered gender, racial, and LGTBQ equality long before the rest of the country. Today, it shuffles ever backwards instead of blazing forward. Our state motto: 'Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain' should be removed from the flag sitting on Reynolds' desk.


Iowa needs demoted from the primary election. But to turn things around moving forward, we should also honor the history that got us to that first in the nation position.


IOWA: * First in the nation to open a university (The University of Iowa) that admitted both men and women on equal basis.

The University of Iowa is also home to: the first female law degree recipient (1873), the first Black law degree recipient (1879), the first Black student on a varsity athletic squad, the first female college newspaper editor (1907), the first university to recognize a student LGBTQ organization, and the first to offer benefits to domestic partners of its employees.


* First of any city in the nation to elect a Jewish mayor; Iowa City's Moses Bloom.


* First in the nation to elect a woman to public office, as a superintendent and within a decade, 75% of the county superintendents in Iowa were women, another first in the nation. It was also first in the nation to elect a woman to a statewide office--both of these milestones occurred before women could even vote!


* First in the nation to allow women to join the bar, and home to the first woman to practice law before a federal court, paving the way for the first female attorney in the country, Iowan Arabella Mansfield.


* First in the nation to build a Mosque on American soil, The Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, which is also home to the only exclusively Muslim cemetery in the United States.


* Second in the nation to win all gender marriage equality.


* Second in the nation to both win interracial marriage equality; a full century before the rest of the country.


* Clark v. The Board of Directors preceded Brown v. The Board of Education by 96 years, banning segregation in Iowa's schools.


* Second in the nation to allow women to own property, no matter their marital status.


* Second in the nation to allow no-fault divorce


* Third in the nation to win (white) women's right to the vote.


* 3 years before the 15th amendment was ratified, Black male Iowans won the right to vote.


* In 1879, the Iowa General Assembly removed the words “white male” from the statute governing qualifications to practice law when just 5 years earlier, the United States Supreme Court upheld Illinois' decision to bar women from law practice.


* In 1884, the country’s first Civl Rights Act was passed in Iowa.


* In 1905, Iowan George H. Woodson co-founded the Niagra Movement, which later became the NAACP. Woodson would later go on to co-found the National Bar Association, the first association of Black legal professionals.


* In 1917, the US Army held its first officer candidate class for Black men in Des Moines.


* In 1949, Black Iowan, Edna Griffin brought the first successful enforcement of the Iowa Civil Rights Act with the boycott of Katz Drug Store in Des Moines 7 years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed it is against the law for a business to discriminate on the basis of race.


* In 1976, the Iowa Supreme Court preceded the US Supreme Court by 25 years in repealing sodomy laws.


* In 1984, Rich Eychaner became the first openly gay man in the U.S. to run for Congress.


* In 1990, Iowa senator, Tom Harkin co-writes and passes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


https://www.cityofdubuque.org/…/History-of-Iowa-Civil-Rights https://councilbluffscommunityalliance.wordpress.com/…/iow…/ https://admissions.uiowa.edu/student-life/proud-tradition https://agudasachimic.org/about-us/our-history/


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