DSM SURJ News & Action, 9/6/2020

Hey there! We hope you have a Happy Labor Day! Let us take time to celebrate the achievements of the Labor Movement and American workers everywhere. 


We are excited to present our first-ever candidate forum! 

Meet the candidates and hear thoughts on racial justice from Democrats, Republicans and Independents running to represent Des Moines, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Urbandale, Waukee, Clive, and Ankeny in the Iowa House of Representatives. Candidates will answer questions from the SURJ Leadership Core, SURJ accountability partners, and YOU. (Submit a question in advance through the registration link or grab the mic during open Q & A.)

Check out the Facebook event and register today!

Can’t make it? We got you. After the event we’ll be sharing the recording, as well as candidates’ written responses to a more extensive list of questions pertinent to racial justice in Iowa.


Voter turnout in Iowa is key this November. But there are a lot of folks who do not know where, how, or when to vote. That’s why the ACLU has worked hard to assemble a database of over 1,000 shelters, senior centers and other social service providers across 69 counties in Iowa. They now need YOUR help contacting these organizations and getting voter education materials into the hands of their clients.

Sign up by emailing outreach@aclu-ia.org


A new exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center, Black Stories, will feature a collection artwork co-curated by local artists Mitchell Squire and Jordan Weber. Audience members will have a chance to share their stories and reactions to the work. Mark your calendar–the exhibit will run Oct 3 – Jan 17.

Below: Mitchell Squire, “Structure of Perception,” 2014


The SURJ Book Club will continue to meet (or “meet”) through the fall!

With school starting up and life getting busier, we’ll be slowing things down a bit by splitting our next read, The Fire This Time–edited by Jesmyn Ward, who published a beautiful, wrenching piece on losing her husband at the start of the pandemic–over the course of the next three months.

Turns out the book is conveniently organized into three sections! We’ll discuss Part I on Saturday, September 19th at 10:00AM. Sign up for our list by visiting the book club website. And if purchasing the book, we encourage you to utilize Storyhouse Bookpub, a new local book shop that will be donating part of the proceeds to one of SURJ’s local accountability partners, The Supply Hive.


DSM SURJ is guided by the leadership of local groups and organizations led by people of color. One such group is The Directors Council, a coalition of community leaders dedicated to improving life for individuals in the communities it serves. We want to highlight this group and invite you to:

  • Read its One Economy report (or the executive summary) to gain a stronger grasp of the racial disparities that persist in Polk County and what we can do about them.
  • Scroll to page two of the executive summary to learn about Working Groups and Strategies.
  • Brainstorm how you could leverage your professional network or expertise to help. Get excited and creative–there are so many possibilities! (For example, in the Employment working group you could advocate for new internships for Black youth at your Des Moines employer.)
  • Follow the Directors Council on Facebook to stay informed of updates and events.


The Action and Advocacy in Schools Working Group aims to build relationships with teachers, administration, and school board members and encourage anti-racist practices and policies in our schools.

Come to the 9/20 meeting to join in these efforts.


Thank you for reading!

Please stay in touch with us and reach out at any time to dsmsurj@gmail.com

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