Ambassador Ken Quinn, Ph.D. (’64) co-wrote and opinion piece with Simon Estes that appeared in the Des Moines Register. In their article, the two men consider the role that Iowa can play to heal divisions in the midst of racial and social turmoil.
As the nation struggles to come together in the wake of the death of George Floyd, they offer the example provided by another George – George Washington Carver:
“Now, at this critical moment when our country is ripped asunder and the foundation of our democracy shaken by the widespread demonstrations and violence about the underlying racism in the death of George Floyd, Iowa has the opportunity to dramatically lead the effort to knit our divided country back together. We can do so by honoring that other man named George, that man who was born under slavery but who, uplifted by Iowa State, overcame the barriers of racism to become a hero of our state.“
They posit that honoring of of Iowa’s greatest heroes would have a positive impact on race relations.
“At this critical moment in our nation’s history, we urge that the Iowa Legislature pass a resolution to place a statue of George Washington Carver in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. In doing so, lawmakers should state that the inspiration for the timing for this action is to respond to the pain still so intensely felt by such a large part of our population that is affected by the racism that still afflicts our country more than 150 years after George Washington Carver came to Iowa..”
You can read their full article here on the Des Moines Register’s website.
Quinn retired as president of the World Food Prize last year after 20 years at the helm of the organization.
After graduating from Loras College with a political science degree, Dr. Quinn earned his Master’s degree from Marquette University before he found himself working in Washington, D.C. in 1974 as part of Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council staff. While at the White House, he also served as personal interpreter in Vietnamese for President Ford during meetings in the Cabinet Room as South Vietnam was collapsing. His 32-year State Department career culminated in assignment as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia from 1996 to 1999.
A native of Centerville, Iowa, Estes is a world-renown operatic singer that has been instrumental in breaking down racial barriers in the opera world.