A partisan dust-up at the Iowa Statehouse marred a ceremony scheduled to celebrate a milestone in black history. The National Bar Association, an association for black attorneys, was founded in Des Moines in the 1920s and officials were in town to donate the group’s archives to Drake University and to be honored at the statehouse.
But Republicans unhappy about a decision Democrats had made on another issue stormed out of the Iowa House just before the recognition ceremony was scheduled to begin.
Representative Helen Miller, a black legislator from Fort Dodge, was upset. "A very special moment like this and you have it just kind of shoved aside by partisan bickering," Miller told reporters.
By the time the Republicans returned, the ceremony was over and the black dignitaries who were being honored had left.
House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says it’s unfortunate. "I’m sorry about that. I was one of the co-sponsors of that resolution," Rants told reporters. "But I’m not the one who set the timing of this. I was not the one who decided to play that game."
The ceremony was held over the noon hour today. Rants and other Republicans were upset Democrats would not accept their amendments on a bill that limits the interest rates which can be charged on so-called car title loans. Debate on that bill began just after 5:30 p.m.
Willie Glanton of Des Moines, the first black woman to be elected to the Iowa Legislature, was honored during today’s noon-hour celebration. George Woodson, the first black attorney to practice law in Iowa, and Samula Brown, the first black graduate of the University of Iowa Law School, were also singled out as pioneers.