Historian/ Educator Launches $2K Scholarship Contest About Predominantly Black Town in Iowa
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Historian/ Educator Launches $2K Scholarship Contest About Predominantly Black Town in Iowa

Rachelle Chase (Blacknews)

Most people haven’t heard of Buxton, Iowa — a thriving, integrated coal mining town of 5,000 residents established in 1900, where Blacks and whites were treated equally, and Black Americans were doctors, lawyers, teachers, business owners, and leaders in the community.

Rachelle Chase, the author of two books about Buxton and the founder and the Executive Director of Uniting Through History, wants to change that.

To help spread the word about this amazing town, Chase invites middle school and high school students nationwide to enter Uniting Through History’s 2nd Annual Online Hip History Contest for a chance to win prizes. Thanks to a grant from the Legacy Foundation in Ottumwa, Iowa, contest finalists will win scholarships from $250 to $2,000 — and the winners’ schools will win a matching amount.

Chase loves the creativity of last year’s entries. “Students submitted videos of themselves performing songs, poems, skits, and stories they wrote,” she says. “They created documentaries. One young man even used a vintage television and flying pigs to tell Buxton’s story.”

Chase has a new challenge for this year’s entrants. “We’d like to see students dig a little deeper, really highlight the Black experience and show how Black Americans made a difference in Buxton and why racial equity and equality is important today.” This year, contest judges will rate how well entrants address that.

Contest judges include Charity Nebbe of Iowa Public Radio; Derrick Holmes, CEO, Banneker Watches & Clocks; Steve Myers, president of Iowa’s premier talent agency, The Peak Agency, and Monica Henry, a successful realtor. More judges will be added weekly in February.

“We’re really excited about the contest judges because not only will they help pick winners, they are donating their time to meet with entrants,” says Chase. In addition to scholarships, First Place winners get a 30-minute Zoom call with the judge of their choice—a successful professional who could be a valuable resource for them later in life.

The Hip History Contest is one of the projects that Uniting Through History offers to further acceptance of and pride in the fact that Black history is American history.

At a time when Jim Crow laws limited the rights of Black Americans and Black Americans experienced extreme racism, violence, and were lynched throughout the country, Buxton is an example of what happens when all people are given equal access to opportunities, education, jobs, and equal pay. It is also an example of how corporations, businesses, and individuals of all ethnicities benefit from treating everyone equally.

“Though the town wasn’t perfect,” says Chase, “we hope that people will see how Buxton’s lessons of unity and racial equality and equity can be applied to combat racism today.”

The Hip History Contest will run from February 1, 2022, to June 1, 2022.

For more details about the contest, visit https://unitingthroughhistory.org/hip-history-contest/

This story first appeared on Blacknews.com.


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