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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release May 10, 2011

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

2011 Iowa Juneteenth Observance at State Historical Building

“For Colored Girls,” Jazz Heritage concert and Historical Museum exhibit May 21

(DES MOINES) – The 2011 Iowa Juneteenth Observance begins this month with a theatrical production, a jazz concert and an exhibit at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

The Iowa Juneteenth Observance is an annual grassroots-driven program of the Connect Foundation dedicated to improving community relations through education, entertainment and positive, cultural interaction. Iowa Juneteenth promotes the historical significance of the holiday; commemorates the end of slavery in America; highlights the economic, political and social efforts of African Americans in American cultural; and reaches out to all Iowans in mutual celebration of freedom.

The State Historical Building is at 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. For more information, contact Iowa Juneteenth Public Relations Officer Minnie Mallard at 515-725-3322 or minnie.mallard@iowa.gov, or visit www.iowajuneteenth.org.

The schedule of Iowa Juneteenth Observance activities on May 21, 2011, at the State Historical Building follows:

For Colored Girls (Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf)
10 a.m.
For Colored Girls, a landmark piece in African American literature, is a 1975 experimental play by Ntozake Shange. Initially staged in California, it has been performed Off-Broadway and on Broadway, and adapted as a book, television film and theatrical film. The 1977 Broadway production was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. Shange’s play expresses a variety of struggles experienced by African American women. It is performed by a cast of seven women, each of whom is known only by a color: “Lady in Yellow,” “Lady in Purple,” etc. Their struggles deal with abandonment, love, rape and abortion, and embody each woman’s story (for example, Lady in Red’s emotional tale of domestic violence). The end of the play brings together all the women for “a laying on of hands” in which Shange calls on the power of womanhood as the Lady in Red begins the mantra, “I found God in myself, and I loved her, I loved her fiercely.” The film version of For Colored Girls is a 2010 adaptation of the play written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry.  State Representative Ruth Ann Gaines, chair of the Iowa Juneteenth Observance Arts Committee, directs a cast of Iowa women bringing the play to the State Historical Building May 21, 2011. Parents are advised that strong language is used in this artistic portrayal of human events and is for mature audiences only. Parental Discretion is Advised. Free admission and open to the public. Visit www.iowajuneteenth.org/play.htm for more information.

Jazz Heritage Concert
A tribute to the creation of the jazz genre by African Americans and to the late great Iowa jazz pianist, Ernest “Speck‟ Redd. Redd will posthumously receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Ronald Myers, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, and an accomplished Jazz musician. Other Des Moines jazz masters and Hall of Fame musicians performing are Sam Salamone, Steve Charlson and Jim Eklof. Other accomplished jazz artists are Damani Phillips and Scott Davis. Jazz band members from area high schools will also perform. The Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center is co-producing this program that will also reach out to promote interest in jazz, particularly from young people and especially from African Americans youth, to study jazz. A jazz scholarship will be provided to a student. Free and open to the public. Visit www.iowajuneteenth.org/museum_exhibit.htm for more information.

Juneteenth Museum Exhibit
May 21-June 30, 2011
This museum exhibit contains historical content and provides information about the start of slavery in America; the Emancipation Proclamation; the first Juneteenth celebration 146 years ago; the first Iowa Juneteenth Observance 21 years ago; and how Iowa legislation was passed and signed into law nine years ago establishing the third Saturday of June of every year as “Juneteenth Freedom Day” in Iowa. The State Historical Museum is open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public. Visit http://www.iowajuneteenth.org/museum_exhibit.htm for more information.

In addition, the Iowa Juneteenth Observance is partnering with the Mid-Iowa Council of Boy Scouts to have a booth in the Historical Museum 10 a.m.-2 p.m.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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