University of Dubuque

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Almost Free: African Americans in Dubuque 1830-1900

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Posted Mar 22, 2013

On Thursday, April 4, the University of Dubuque welcomes Dr. David Brodnax, Sr., who will deliver a lecture titled Almost Free: African Americans in Dubuque, 1830-1900.  The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Charles and Romona Myers Center Auditorium.  The event is free and open to the public.

 Dr. David Brodnax, Sr.’s talk Almost Free: African Americans in Dubuque, 1830-1900 will explore the history of Iowa's oldest African American community from its founding to the turn of the last century. During this seventy-year period, African Americans came to Dubuque as slaves, fugitive slaves, and free people, many seeking economic opportunities and freedom that they could not find in the South. In the Hawkeye State's first city they found work, founded community institutions, and played an important role in Dubuque's early development, but they also found a level of racial hostility that sometimes erupted into violence. In spite of this, they persisted in their efforts to gain jobs, political rights, education, and the everyday trappings of normal life as citizens.

 “Dr. Brodnax’s talk represents a rare opportunity for Dubuquers to learn about our community’s African American past from an eminent scholar on the subject,” commented UD Assistant Professor of History, Dr. Brian Hallstoos.  “No other scholar can better speak to the particulars of this local 19th century experience within the context of statewide and national race relations.”

Dr. Brodnax serves as associate professor of history at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL.  He completed his Ph.D. and M.A. in History at Northwestern University, and his J.D. at University of Iowa Law School.  He has received numerous fellowships and grants for research on Iowa’s African American history, consulted and presented widely on the topic, and shared his expertise on Iowa’s Public Radio and television stations.  Among his many publications is an essay on Iowa’s African American Civil War regiment in the Annals of Iowa.  His current book project, a reworking of his doctoral dissertation, focuses on African American struggles for equal citizenship in 19th century Iowa.