Des Moines honors Black history
By Erin Tucker
I’m not sure how many attorneys even here in Iowa know that the oldest and largest association of predominantly African-American lawyers, judges, educators and law students was founded in Des Moines.
In response to being rejected for membership by the American Bar Association, in 1925 twelve Black attorneys, eleven men and one woman with a mutual interest in and dedication to justice and civil rights, formed the National Bar Association. The NBA now has 84 chapters throughout the United States and affiliations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Africa, Morocco and the Caribbean.
Founders of the National Bar Association
In recognition of the pioneering role the twelve founders played in the quest for racial equality, the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation commissioned artist Kerry James Marshall to create a monument in their honor. In an interview with Artnet News, Mr. Marshall said that he was originally asked to design the memorial in 2006, but due to difficulty obtaining funding and site approval, the project was repeatedly put on hold . . . long enough that he assumed it was dead. However, both the NBA and the Foundation continued to fight for the project, and the 30-foot, 25-ton sculpture was finally completed and dedicated in July of 2018, 12 years after it had proposed — coincidentally, one year for each of the founders. A Monumental Journey can be viewed at Hansen Triangle Park, Grand and Second Avenues along the Principal Riverwalk in Des Moines.
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