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Exploring the legacy and future of Juneteenth across the state

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River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Juneteenth, a federal holiday, honors the emancipation of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, the final group of Americans to be notified they were free.

On this Juneteenth episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Dwana Bradley, the chair of Iowa Juneteenth, about the legacy and future of the holiday in Iowa.

Historian Leslie Schwalm also joins the program to discuss emancipation celebrations in Iowa dating back to the 1800s. And Sheritta Stokes of the 1619 Freedom School discusses why learning about the holiday is important for everyone.


  • Dwana Bradley, general chairperson, Iowa Juneteenth, Des Moines school board member
  • Leslie Schwalm, professor emeritus, University of Iowa Departments of History and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, co-founder of the Iowa Satellite of the national Colored Conventions Project
  • Sheritta Stokes, co-director, curriculum coordinator, 1619 Freedom School
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.