Coinciding with the momentous week of Juneteenth, Black Iowa News, a pioneering platform highlighting Black perspectives, launched its inaugural newspaper edition. This landmark event underscores the critical importance of the Black press in Iowa, a state grappling with deep-rooted racial disparities.
Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally received news of their freedom, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Today, Juneteenth is a potent symbol of freedom and African American resilience. The launch of the Black Iowa News paper during this significant week serves as a reaffirmation of the spirit of Juneteenth – resistance, resilience, and emancipation.
Dana James, an award-winning writer and former Des Moines Register reporter, founded Black Iowa News to challenge mainstream media narratives, spotlighting the stories, struggles, and successes of Black Iowans. Her mission was born from frustration at seeing the media’s inadequate coverage of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the Black community.
James’ vision for Black Iowa News transcends digital platforms. When asked about the importance of a print publication, she explains: “Black Iowans continue to face longstanding disparities. A print edition will linger in households, churches, and community centers and be shared in a way that digital publications can’t. That’s why Black Iowa News successfully launched a print edition in spite of apparent industry declines.”
The Black press has a long history of galvanizing community action and shedding light on hidden narratives. Black Iowa News is part of this proud tradition, making it a crucial voice in the fight against racial inequities and for progress in Iowa. As an independent news outlet, it represents the strength and resolve of Black Iowans while countering the erasure of their history and existence.
Speaking about the impact she hopes Black Iowa News will have, James said: “At 4% of Iowa’s population, Black Iowans are frequently othered, marginalized, and underestimated. Forces are working to erase diversity, equity, and inclusion. I want Black Iowa News to be a unifying force that centers the lives of Black Iowans and ushers in the positive changes we need.”
Born and raised in Des Moines, James’ journalistic prowess lies in centering the lived experiences of Black Iowans. Her dedication to reporting on the realities and diversity within the Black community aims to elevate Black Iowans and ultimately lead to systemic change.
As the landscape of Iowa changes, the role of outlets like Black Iowa News becomes increasingly vital. By giving voice to the experiences, concerns, and aspirations of Black Iowans, the newspaper serves as a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of community journalism. Through its commitment to free, accessible, and high-quality journalism, Black Iowa News has taken a bold step in shaping Iowa’s future, ensuring that the Black narrative is never sidelined.