The Iowa Constitution: An Enduring Testament to Equality
Our speaker series hosted Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady (pictured left), University of Iowa College of Law Professor Todd Pettys (pictured right) and journalist, businessman and attorney Michael Gartner (pictured center). They discussed the origins and legacy of the Iowa Constitution.
Highlighted were several decisions that put Iowa ahead of its time when compared to other states. They spoke on the 1868 Clark v. Board of Directors case, which desegregated Iowa schools before any other state did so and 86 years before the U.S. Supreme Court followed suit. They also described an 1869 decision that allowed Arabella Mansfield to become the first woman lawyer in the nation here in Iowa. These decisions, as well as more recent ones, such as Varnum v. Brien, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, were also examined.
Janet Schlapkohl: Chore Boots
Our Speaker Series welcomed Janet Schlapkohl in her one-woman play, "Chore Boots," on Tuesday, October 23. The autobiographical piece examines growing up in the rural Midwest in the 1960s and 1970s and covers key moments of the period including the Vietnam War, the women's rights movement, and later the farm crisis of the 1980s. It was a wonderful event that many attendees who grew up on farms said they could relate to.
From Simpson to Saigon
On March 20th our Speaker Series welcomed Gerry Berry and one of the biggest crowds the Iowa History Center has ever had for an event. Gerry began his presentation by giving a historical overview of the Vietnam War including how and why America became involved. From there, he moved on to the personal side of the story sharing how four individuals from his Simpson class of '67 all served in Vietnam. Gerry then shared how he was the last helicopter pilot running evacuations from the US embassy in South Vietnam as the North Vietnamese closed in on the city. For 10 hours he flew in and out evacuating friendly individuals in the South culminating in the evacuation of the US ambassador and any remaining marines. It was a mere hours later that the North Vietnamese took the city. Thank you to all who came and especially Gerry for his service to the country and coming to share his story.