Lulu Merle Johnson would be a fitting namesake for Johnson County

The first decision of Iowa’s territorial Supreme Court affirmed a former slave’s right to remain out of bondage. Iowa gained statehood as a “free” state and sent thousands of boys and men to fight and die for the Union during the Civil War.

Nevertheless, our state’s fourth-largest county is named after a “particularly despicable” slave-owner. That needs to change, and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors took a first step toward doing so this week.

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July 4th provides a route to November 3rd

Herb Strentz: Some lines from the Declaration of Independence “remain sacred even in these days of skepticism, cynicism, and mutual betrayal. In a way, they got us here and they offer a way out.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Happy Fourth of July!

That opening is neither a belated salutation for 2020 nor a head start on Independence Day 2021.

Rather it suggests it may be a good idea to keep the Fourth in mind to stay sane through the 100 and more days we face of political rhetoric, folly, hatred and the like until the Nov. 3 election — unless, of course, that is called off or rigged  as some of the fears go.

Remembering the Fourth is like hearing at a place of worship that one should celebrate and practice one’s articles of faith every day — not only on days of festival and commemoration.

So let us focus on how we “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness;” and that, to those ends, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

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Thoughts on removal of Confederate monuments

David Grussing: The Confederacy was not some romantic “Lost Cause” or a testament to the desire to pursue a differing form of government. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the past two or three months there have been stories from all viewpoints about removing Confederate monuments from public locations as well as removing the names of Confederate soldiers from various Department of Defense installations, streets, and vehicles. 

As someone who served for 28 years as an Army and Army Reserve officer, I would like to offer my viewpoint on honoring members of the Confederate government or military.

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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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The ghost of 1980

Based on the latest Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register, Dan Guild wonders whether history will repeat itself, with an unpopular president taking down U.S. senators from his party. -promoted by Laura Belin

The presidential election of 1980 was by far the most important election of my lifetime. It gave power to social conservatives who had never tasted power before (Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were both pro-choice). It also brought to fore and gave explicit expression to white racial resentment when Ronald Reagan spoke of “welfare queens” driving Cadillacs.

The 1980 election changed not only Republican politics (every GOP nominee since has been pro-life) but also Democratic politics. In the aftermath of the Reagan presidency, Democrats began talking about “ending welfare as we know it.” President Bill Clinton signed a major welfare reform bill 45 days before the 1996 election, in which he had a significant lead.

What is difficult to explain to those who have no memory of 1980 is how shocking the results were. It was not just that Reagan won, but that Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in decades. The GOP picked up twelve Senate seats, beating some well-liked Democrats with national reputations.

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