The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation is inviting the community to a public dedication and celebration of an art project titled “A Monumental Journey.”
The ceremony is July 12, 11 a.m., at the Hansen Triangle (Grand Avenue and 2nd Avenue). A free public lecture by the artist Kerry James Marshall will be held at 6 p.m. at Sheslow Auditorium on Drake University’s campus.
The project honors the legacy of the 12 African-American lawyers who in 1925 founded the National Bar Association (NBA) in Des Moines after they were denied membership in the American Bar Association.
Today, the NBA is the largest network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. The organization represents approximately 65,000 lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students throughout the United States and around the world.
“Their action was an important milestone in the struggle for civil rights and justice not only within the legal profession, but also in American society,” according to the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation website. “By honoring these individuals, the project preserves local cultural history that has had great significance at the national and international levels.”
Drake Law School has a significant connection to the NBA. One of the organization’s co-founders was Charles Preston Howard, a 1922 alumnus of the Law School.
Since 2007, the Drake Law Library has housed the NBA’s archives in Opperman Hall, including biographical information, newspaper clippings, and articles about the original founders. The archives also contain files from the FBI’s McCarthy-era investigation on Howard from 1937 to 1958.
A temporary display from the NBA archives will be featured at Sheslow Auditorium during the public lecture.
“Drake Law School is proud of our link to the National Bar Association, whose contributions to the legal profession have been profound and enduring,” said Jerry Anderson, dean of Drake Law School. “We are excited to be a part of this occasion on July 12 to honor the organization’s legacy.”
Follow the installation of the art project and view a time lapse of the project here.