Since the late nineteenth century, African Americans have participated in a variety of sports and contributed in profound ways to Iowa’s sporting culture. African Americans experienced severe discrimination in sports as in other activities, but fought long and hard to overcome racism. In Iowa, they frequently used achievement in sports as a way to come together as a community. These countless narratives both on and off the court, field, and ring, remind us of the broader struggle for civil rights in America.
More Than Just a Game: African American Athletes in Iowa is part of a series of Hometown Teams events. Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” will be in Mount Vernon, Iowa from March 18 to April 28, 2018. It is one of ten related events that is scheduled while the exhibit is in Mount Vernon.