April 01, 2023

Creston coalition acknowledges rich Black history

Members of Creston’s Human Rights Coalition decided it was time to celebrate Black history with community events throughout February.

From displays of art to presentations on key moments in the Civil Rights Movement, the group aims to share Black history and culture.


The events kick off Friday with “Cultural Expression Through Fabric,” a quilt show at the Creston Arts Depot Gallery. The display features authentic African quilts and wall hangings by Dr. Monica Howard-Martin.

“The discovery of Black/African American quilt guilds fills a void that has not been filled by living in Iowa/midwest,” Howard-Martin said. “We understand what brings us joy and the similarities in the vibrancy of color and expression makes our community so strong.”

Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Howard-Martin began quilting in 2001. “The desire to be authentic in representation is like an unquenchable thirst,” she said. “It is out of respect for these cultures that I provide what I have learned to my guild and others when I share my projects.”

Howard-Martin will be available at an artist’s reception from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, but the quilts are already on display at the depot.


Coalition member Dr. Jeremy Fox said when events for Black History Month were proposed, it was a natural thing to turn toward music. As co-director of Southwestern Community College’s School for Music Vocation, he knew just how to add to the events.

“A lot of the music people love and study the most is music written or composed by Black Americans,” Fox said. “It’s good for our students to know all the contributions that Black Americans have made to the music they study every day.”

The students focused on the different styles and genres of music Black Americans helped shape. “We thought it would be wonderful for our students to learn and present the music of Motown,” Fox said.

From 1-3:30 p.m., Friday, SWCC will be showing, “Hitsville, the Making of Motown” a movie and discussion on the making of Motown.

“It speaks of the formation of this music we all know, whether we listen to it or not,” Fox explained. “Whether it’s Gladys Knight or Marvin Gaye or The Temptations or Diana Ross, that’s music that many of us grew up on. We wanted to offer some education about Motown and the movement that started.”

From 7-9 p.m., Feb. 10, musicians from SWCC will perform at Hot Air Brewing in Motown and Beyond.

“We didn’t want to limit it to just Motown, so Motown and Beyond was so we could include music definitely influenced by Motown,” Fox said. “Our students will talk a little bit before each song about each songwriter to give a little bit of information.”

The final musical event will take place at 7 p.m., Feb. 16 in SWCC Music Hall, room 520 (Recital Hall). The jazz recital will feature music and historical notes of African-American singers and composers.

“There’s so much jazz music that has come from Black Americans, so that’s an easy one for us,” Fox said. “Our students love jazz, and we typically have a jazz recital anyway. This just limits to songs made famous or written by Black Americans.”


There will be several informational presentations at the Gibson Memorial Library throughout February that focus on both local and national Black history.

It begins with a presentation on the Underground Railroad in Iowa by Susan Weight at 6 p.m., Feb. 15 in the Genealogy Room.

The next event is a presentation on the Civil Rights Trail from Creston Human Rights Coalition members Annette Rice and Connie Maxson. The two will discuss their recent trip to Alabama as they traced the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. The presentation will be held at 6 p.m., Feb. 20 on the main floor of the library.

The final event of the month will be another Civil Rights Trail recap. Evan and Amanda McVann will present their 2023 trip to Alabama where they explored various locations prominent in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

Cheyenne Roche


Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.