Buxton: Iowa’s Black Utopia

January 12, 2017 3:16 pm

From 1895 to 1927, the coal mining town of Buxton, in Monroe County, was an oasis of racial harmony and integration in Iowa. This unique multi-ethnic community, with a racially diverse population of African Americans and white European-Americans, was at one point one of the largest cities in Iowa and the largest unincorporated community in the U.S. By the late 20s, the mines were closed and the residents moved on to less integrated parts of the country, including the Des Moines area.

Not only were the mines integrated and equal wages paid to all workers, regardless of color, but African Americans held positions of power in the Consolidation Coal Company as well as the town. There were integrated schools, businesses, YMCA, churches, and even a well known baseball team, the Buxton Wonders.

Several African American citizens from Buxton rose to prominence. E.A. Carter became the first black graduate from the University of Iowa College of Medicine. He returned to Buxton to become assistant chief surgeon for Consolidation Coal in 1907, and chief surgeon in 1915. Attorney George H. Woodson co-founded the Niagara Movement in 1905. It became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Woodson and fellow Buxton attorney Samuel Joe Brown went on to co-found with three others the National Bar Association in 1925.

Join local historian John Busbee for a presentation about Buxton, why this unique community thrived in southeast Iowa, and how the families who lived in Buxton are remembering their heritage.

Saturday, February 25, 2017
Valley Junction Activity Center
217 5th Street, West Des Moines

Tickets: $10 for adults, $6 for children
*Tickets include entry to Guided Tour, through March 31

There will be children’s activities available during the presentation.