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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

Four to be honored at African American Museum of Iowa’s History Makers Gala

By B.A. Morelli, The Gazette | Sep 06, 2017

CEDAR RAPIDS — The African African American Museum of Iowa, which is based in Cedar Rapids, is holding its annual History Makers Gala on Thursday.

Four people will be honored at the event, recognizing the “significant impact they have made in their communities and their indelible mark on Iowa’s rich history,” according to a news release.

Honorees are Deborah Berry and Leon Mosley, both of Waterloo, Dr. Jerome Pierson of Sioux City, and Dale Todd of Cedar Rapids.

“This year’s honorees represent the caliber of leaders the AAMI recognizes year after year,” executive director LaNisha R. Cassell said in an email. “Right here in the Corridor and across the state of Iowa, African-Americans continue to make significant contributions in all facets of life; impacting how we live, work and play.”

The event is being held at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, in Cedar Rapids. A reception kicks off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the program at 6:15 p.m. University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld will greet guests as the event begins.

Seats cost $50 per person and can be purchased online at the museum’s website Proceeds benefit the museum and its “mission to preserve, exhibit, and teach the African American heritage of Iowa.” The event is the organization’s only major fundraiser each year.

The honorees have different accomplishments.

Todd, a longtime Cedar Rapidian, has been an active community leader for decades. He was the first and only black member of the Cedar Rapids City Council as the parks and public property commissioner. As a civic leader, he’s been involved in various causes, including combating youth gun violence, expanding affordable housing opportunities, enhancing accessibility for those with disabilities, and supporting revitalization of Cedar Lake.

Mosley, a former Black Hawk County supervisor and former co-chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, has been likened to fictional vigilante heroes, such as those played by Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson, in news reports across the state documenting his community activism.

After a rash of shootings, he was spurred out of retirement a couple of years ago to resume his role of community activism — fighting for safer streets for residents young and old. He has led community forums on gun violence, helped police catch criminals and publicizes his phone number so residents who are afraid to report crime to police have an alternative.

Pierson, a native of Torrance, Calif., is a cardiologist who has been practicing in the Sioux City area for decades, currently at Mercy Cardiology where he also serves as medical director. Aside from saving lives on the operating table, Pierson recently began serving as a reserve deputy for the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office as another way to give back to the community.

Berry, a former Waterloo City Council member, served seven terms as a Democrat in the Iowa House before opting not to seek re-election last year. She held the House District 62 seat, which covers the northern part of Waterloo and Evansdale, Elk Run Heights and Raymond.

Berry, who is in the Iowa African-American Hall of Fame, most recently was hired as president and executive director of KBBG, an African-American community broadcasting radio station.



What: African American Museum of Iowa’s History Makers Gala

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids

Details: The semiformal affair includes a gourmet meal, light jazz, cash bar, “Heads or Tails” raffle and honoring or four “History Makers.”

Cost: $50

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