Iowa Musician Inducted into UNI Hall of Fame After a Lifetime of Prejudice and Making Music

May 20, 2016

The University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Hall of Fame has a new inductee - Roger Maxwell. Maxwell is a talented trombone player, in addition to a teacher and composer. He's also a trailblazer and advocate for the African-American community in Iowa. 

Roger Maxwell

During his childhood in Marshalltown, segregation was very real. He couldn't go to the pool, except for a two hour period on Sunday mornings, and blacks weren't allowed to stay in local hotels. 

"We just accepted the conditions. We knew where we could not go, and we just accepted that," he says. 

Due to the fact that Marshalltown hotels wouldn't serve African-Americans, Maxwell's parents opened up their home to visitors coming through town, including several big names like Jesse Owens, a four time Olympic gold medalist. 

"I remember when he stayed with us very well. I was 16 years old. We got a call, or my mother did, and said we have a Jesse Owens coming, would you be able to accommodate him in a sleeping arrangement?" So, Jesse Owens and his road manager came to stay with us."

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Maxwell about his music, his career and the impact the musicians who stayed with his family in Marshalltown had on his life and love for jazz.