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IOWA Magazine | 03-04-2021

Iowa Alumni Discuss Race on Campus Across the Decades

A panel led by former Hawkeye track and field star Brittany Brown shares the experiences of Black students throughout the University of Iowa's history.
Brittany Brown PHOTO: DARREN MILLER/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Brittany Brown

University of Iowa track and field competitors see Brittany Brown (17BA) as a trailblazer.

After all, the former 11-time Hawkeye All-American is now a world silver medalist in the 200-meters and runs professionally for Adidas.

As the racial justice movement gained momentum this past year, Brown used her platform to honor those who ran the race before her in another arena: promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion at Iowa. "It’s important to talk about the past so we can gain knowledge to go forward with the future,” she says. “As a Black woman, this is what I live every day, so having the discussion will bring about ideas for change."

More than 100 alumni and friends tuned in live earlier this academic year to watch Brown’s virtual event for the UI, "Voices for Change: Discussing Race on Campus Across the Decades," where panelists reflected on the experiences of Black students throughout Iowa’s history. Guests included Lena and Michael Hill, former UI faculty and authors of Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa During the Long Civil Rights Era; as well as representatives from the Iowa Black Alumni Association and the Iowa Black Alumni Network. Liz Tovar, UI executive officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion, served as moderator.

"I hope our students today understand they stand on the shoulders of giants," Lena Hill advised young listeners. "You are walking in the footsteps of trailblazers who have accomplished so much and opened many doors."

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