The following is an excerpt from a speech Senator Tom Harkin (retired) delivered at a Juneteenth Celebration in Des Moines in 2001:

“This is the Evelyn Davis Park and I want to say a
special word about my friend who has done so much
to improve the quality of life for our families and to
give faith and hope to our young people. Evelyn
Davis really represents so many of the quiet heroes
throughout this community who are working hard
every day to make life better for our children and our

Rich heritage of African-Americans in Iowa.
George Washington Carver lived here-went to
school here-taught here. One of the most effective
networks of the Underground Railroad was right
here in Iowa. The National Bar Association started
here more than 75 years ago. The first black
officers to be commissioned in the military were
commissioned here at Fort Des Moines. And I was
proud to secure funds to preserve and honor that
history. We’re going to have the Fort Des Moines
Memorial Park and Education Center here in
Des Moines.

This is more than a celebration of history-or even
freedom. We’re celebrating family and community
here today. It’s a day for rejoicing, but it’s also a
day for reflection and reminding ourselves there is a
lot more work to do.

Our country has always been a work in progress.
It took 100 years after the Emancipation
Proclamation before we had the Civil Rights Act
and the Voting Rights Act. And we still have a long
way to go. We need to keep working together to
make our nation a more perfect union, closer to our
ideals, where the American Dream-Dr. King’s
dream-is more real for more Americans.”

As we celebrate this important day, we join our friends and neighbors in learning and reflection.

  • Learn more about Evelyn K. Davis, referenced in Senator Harkin’s 2000 remarks and namesake of the Evelyn K Davis Park and Evelyn K. Davis Center For Working Families.
  • Learn more about the significance of Juneteenth with these resources from PBS.