When I retired from working in the Infant Pulmonary Function Lab at Riley Hospital for Children in 2017, I moved to Indianola, Iowa. (bottom center of map below). Indianola has a population of around 16,000 and is home to Simpson College, which has a student body of around 1,900.
I had wondered what I might find to get involved with in Indianola. Over the years in Indianapolis I had been blessed to become friends and work with many people/activists. I had been able to work with North Meadow Circle of Friends (Quakers), the Kheprw Institute, Indiana Moral Mondays, Sustainable Indiana, Keystone Pledge of Resistance, and against the Dakota Access pipeline. As I suspect is the case in most cities, the same small group of people are involved in multiple efforts.
I wasn’t sure how to find similar things to work on in Iowa. My Quaker meeting, Bear Creek, and yearly meeting (Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative) were very active in justice work. Bear Creek meeting had over ten years of experience helping with the Prairie Awakening ceremony, for example.
And as I suspected, once I found a few activists, they helped me connect with others, and I was quickly engaged with many projects in Iowa.
I thought I would have trouble finding friends and organizations related to racial justice. There isn’t a lot of diversity in the state of Iowa. In Indianapolis, I was especially fortunate to be connected with the Kheprw Institute, a small, black youth mentoring and empowerment community.
I’m glad Indivisible Warren County and Clemente Love organized some gatherings here related to Black Live Matter, as calls for racial justice spread across the country. I wondered what the reaction of the public would be. This first rally I attended was June 4, 2020. Fortunately there was a generally positive public reaction.
Then Clemente Love organized the rally of August 28, 2020.. She and her family moved to Indianola a year ago. Following George Floyd’s murder, Clemente has been leading Black Lives Matter marches in Indianola. This time there were some indications of disapproval with shouted remarks, revving engines, etc. But still positive overall.
Yesterday, a racial incident occurred at Simpson College.
Because of that incident, classes were cancelled today. My friend Rezadad Mohammadi is attending Simpson College now. Here he is holding an FCNL sign that says Love Thy Neighbor, No Exceptions.
Following are more photos from Simpson College today. Black Lives Matter has obviously come to a small Iowa town and to Simpson College.