Loras Helps Uncover Dubuque’s Black Heritage

Being a responsible contributor is one of the dispositions Loras students take with them wherever they go. Fostering this in the classroom, Kristin Anderson-Bricker, PhD, professor of history, is providing students the opportunity to assist the City of Dubuque with research on housing discrimination in her The Civil Rights Movement class. 

The City of Dubuque Historic Preservation Commission was awarded $30,000 from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to start the Black Heritage Initiative. Part of the initiative is to look deeper into the housing discrimination present from the 1830s to the 1980s in Dubuque.

Dubuque County Recorder John Murphy (’04) reached out to Anderson-Bricker to get involved in the Black Heritage Initiative. “His outreach regarding his discovery of restrictive covenants in Dubuque land records led to my decision to focus my course on housing discrimination,” Dr. Anderson-Bricker said. 

Loras students are tasked to assist in research and provide greater content for the project overall. During this class, students research housing amongst Black Dubuque citizens and document the individual lives of Black residents.“I think working with the city of Dubuque for this project is a very unique learning experience that many people would never even think of doing. It is also a way we can connect Loras College with the city,” Jared Hensley (’22), a current student in the course said.

Each student provides over twenty hours of research for the community to look further into housing discrimination locally and compare Dubuque with national history. The class has been focusing on the Civil Rights Movement’s strategies for creating change.

“The last few years made it very clear this fight is not over. We still don’t have a country that allows everyone to live truly free,” Dylan Swartz (’23) said.

The students in this course are being challenged to look back and see history through a new lens, a lens of change. “I am wanting to walk away [from the class] with the idea that I am able to make a change and see things differently in our present-day by learning about the past,” Hensley expressed.

Loras students will be working to uncover Dubuque’s Black heritage by showcasing the people, places, and events left out of history. The project is expected to be finished and available for the public to access by 2023.