ByStephen Gruber-Miller/IowaWatch and West Liberty Index, Jermaine Pigee/The Hawk Eye (Burlington), Gregg Hennigan/The Gazette (Cedar Rapids), Joe Sutter/Fort Dodge Messenger |
This IowaWatch collaboration with four Iowa newspapers, published in fall 2013, is particularly pertinent during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday period. It tells you how and why gaps exist in home ownership, jobs and pay, education and crime exist among white, black and Latino Iowans.
In 1974 a handful of leaders in Fort Dodge’s strongly black Pleasant Valley neighborhood wanted the city to do something to help strengthen that neighborhood, especially for young black kids growing up. A community center could help, they suggested, though none was established at the time. A few years later, though, the city built a nine-hole golf course along the Des Moines River and next to Pleasant Valley. Low-income and black residents in the neighborhood were not quick to hit the links. The purpose for bringing this up is not to reopen an old wound but, rather, to set the stage for what is happening now in Fort Dodge, where 5.5 percent of the city’s 24,751 residents are black and 5 percent are Latino.
White Iowans have made strong gains in high school and college graduation rates, lowering poverty levels, median family income and home ownership since 1960. But black and Latino achievements have grown far more slowly, or in some cases declined, widening an opportunity gap among the races, an IowaWatch-led investigation with five other news organizations shows.