One of the ways Des Moines area residents kick off Black History Month is with the hugely popular African-American festival I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa. The first year for this event was 1999 with 1,000 people in attendance. The popularity has grown over the years and numbers have soared with this year’s totals expected to be between 15,000 and 20,000 attendees.
This FREE, family-friendly event takes place this Saturday, January 28, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Polk County Convention Center. Many local acts and groups will be performing. This is a great way to get to know some of them.
Des Moines University has been a sponsor of this event for the past several years. We are proud to say that, once again, students and faculty will be on hand to perform free health screenings including blood pressure, body fat percentage, and cholesterol/glucose readings. Screenings will be done from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A highlight this year is that DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., will be featured as a community leader and will introduce one of the headliners for the event. The IMMAWII crew always does a great job of securing nationally known figures for headliners, but this year I think they’ve outdone themselves! Kenny Lattimore, the top-40 R&B recording artist, is the featured musician, and Shemar Moore, best know for his roles in “The Young & the Restless” and “Criminal Minds,” will be the featured speaker.
Organizers of the event stress that this is really a community celebration and not just an African-American celebration. There are family-friendly activities as well as information booths on various topics. New this year is the Empower Energy Conservation Challenge. This challenge focuses on ways to conserve energy and save money, all while increasing awareness of these practices within the African-American community.
I have lived in this area my entire life, 30 minutes west of Des Moines in the small town of Stuart. 2012 will be my first year attending the IMMAWII celebration. I can hardly wait to share this great event with my seven-year-old daughter. As the mother and stepmother of biracial children, I am highly aware that diversity in the Des Moines area is less prevalent than it is in some of the bigger metropolitan areas. I look forward to taking my family to any event that showcases that part of their heritage and history. See you there!