Three notable Iowa events that happened on July 4

Independence Day was established to celebrate the July 4, 1776 vote by the Second Continental Congress to adopt Declaration of Independence. But many other noteworthy historical events also happened on this day. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. New York state abolished slavery on this day in 1827.

July 4 has also been a significant date in Iowa history. Two of the events described below happened within the lifetimes of many Bleeding Heartland readers.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Iowans lose out to industrial ag in 2020 legislative session

Emma Schmit is an Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

While coronovirus disrupted the Iowa legislative session this year, it failed to hinder business as usual.

Once again, legislators across the state preferred to serve Big Ag instead of their constituents. It’s hardly a surprise given the hundreds of thousands of dollars that flow into the coffers of our elected officials from Farm Bureau, Bayer-Monsanto and fat cats of the factory farm industry, including the Hansen and Rastetter families. While the needs of everyday Iowans were ignored for yet another year, industrial agribusiness cemented its rule over our state.

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My awakening moment in the fight for justice

Erika Brighi of Marion has been working with Advocates for Social Justice, based in Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Black. Lives. Matter. We have heard these three words before—yet this time, the fight feels different.

All lives matter, right? Yes. That’s the goal. But all lives matter” can’t be true until black lives matter as well. The fight for justice has never stopped, but this time, there are more voices and they are louder; they aren’t being silenced after your typical week of anger and outcries on social media. 

The voices are still there. Allyship is becoming stronger.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Wild petunia (Hairy wild petunia)

If you’ve considered introducing native plants to a garden, today’s featured wildflower is for you. Wild petunia (Ruellia humilis) is “quite adaptable, tolerating full or partial sun, moist to dry conditions, and practically any kind of soil,” the Illinois Wildflowers website writes.

Sometimes known as fringeleaf wild petunia, this species is native to much of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, except for New England.

I’ve seen these flowers thriving in several plantings near bike trails or parking lots. I took all of the pictures enclosed below in the main parking area at Brown’s Woods in West Des Moines.

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