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Building Black Families In Iowa

George Barlow and Erin Haggerty
Courtesy of Erin Haggerty
George Barlow and Erin Haggerty

Raising Black children in an overwhelmingly white state isn’t always easy. On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Black parents about their children.

Eric Harris is a father and husband living in Iowa City, where he’s raising six kids. Harris has three felony convictions, and has used his experience to advocate for the restoration of voting rights for other Iowans with similar records. His own rights now restored, Harris will vote in his first presidential race this year.

Eric Harris with four of his children
Courtesy of Eric Harris
Eric Harris with four of his children

“(My kids) don’t have to be exposed to constant violence like I was,” Harris says. “Sometimes I’ll share a story with them. Something in my past… about being 18-years-old and sitting in a solitary cell by myself for 23 hours a day. I feel like my kids have a better shot because they can see the things that I’ve been through and they also watched me climb out of those things.”

RaQuishia Harrington
Courtesy of RaQuishia Harrington
RaQuishia Harrington

Later in the program, father and daughter George Barlow and Erin Haggerty share their experience moving from Northern California to Iowa City in the mid-1980s, when Haggerty was a teenager entering high school. Also, RaQuishia Harrington, who serves on the North Liberty City Council, talks about how growing up as a young mother in Waterloo shaped her current career in youth advocacy.


  • Eric Harris, Iowa City
  • Erin Haggerty, New York City
  • George Barlow, Grinnell
  • RaQuishia Harrington, North Liberty

This program originally aired on 10-22-20.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa