DSM SURJ News & Action, 5/12/21

DSM SURJ applauds the recent hiring of Louis Fountain into the role of Director of Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at Johnston Community School District.

This hire is cause for celebration, and it was anything but guaranteed. The Johnston School Board voted in favor of hiring Mr. Fountain after a Change.org petition garnered over 1,000 signatures, and after an in-person rally with dozens of attendees. Taken together, this show of support clearly outnumbered the folks who had argued against hiring Mr. Fountain.

Thank you to those who signed the petition, wrote letters to the school board, and/or showed up at the rally. There is now a highly qualified individual in place to lead the hard work of equity that needs to be done. This is a victory.

To better understand the extent of that work, check out this passage from the article linked above:

A few of Fountain’s essential responsibilities will include leading and facilitating the district’s Equity Committee and the work of each school building’s Equity Advocates. He will coordinate the creation and implementation of a framework outlining systems and structures of opportunity, racial consciousness, cultural competence, and culturally responsive education. Along with that, Fountain will develop and provide professional learning and coaching promoting student diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for district staff and students.

Fountain will play a public role for JCSD, building, developing, and maintaining strong relationships with staff, parents, elected officials, community partners, faith leaders and businesses in support of the school community. He will collaborate with various stakeholders to identify, assess, and create action plans to address institutional biases in district programs, practices and policies and their associated impacts on underserved/underrepresented communities.”


SUN JUNE 6  6-8PM
Join Dwana Bradley, the General Chairperson of Iowa Juneteenth Observance organization, in a presentation and discussion of Iowa’s Observance of Juneteeth, hosted by DSM SURJ.

According to the African American Museum of Iowa:

“Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in America.
After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, owners in many isolated areas kept word from the people they had enslaved so that they would not flee. On June 19, 1865, some of the last enslaved people in America were freed when the news, at last, reached Confederate Galveston, Texas. Since that day, Juneteenth has been celebrated to honor the African Americans who built this nation.”


REGISTER HERE: https://forms.gle/txD3Y45LBX27PcfW8
Registration closes on Sunday, June 6 at 3pm CT.


As we push for equity and racial justice in government, in policing, in schools, and in other venues, we must not forget the importance of religious institutions, which have had strong influence on society since our nation’s founding. 

Edward Kelly, Jr. is a former Pentacostal minister and has been an evangelist and pastor in Iowa for over 20 years. Whether you participate in religious services or not, we recommend reading his recent op-ed in the Des Moines Register, which describes two problems he encountered in his church:

1) the penchant for regarding racism as a matter of individual weakness/sin, rather than a systemic issue that plagues institutions, communities, and nations
2) the mistaken idea that reconciliation can occur in the absence of justice

What role can religious leaders and institutions play in addressing racism as a systemic evil? In the creation of a more just world? 

If you attend religious services, we invite you to consider speaking to your faith leaders about these questions if you haven’t already. And if you do not attend services, know that your voice still matters when conversing with local leaders, religious or otherwise. 


With the economy emerging from the pandemic, this year is a crucial one for local businesses. Your dollar matters more than ever! If you’re in the market for lawn and soil restoration, photography services, an evening of live music, a food truck for your event, dietary consultation, marketing and communications, or anything else, we hope you’ll consider supporting Black-owned businesses!

A much larger directory of Black-owned businesses in the Des Moines metro is available on the SURJ website



Thank you for reading!

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