MUSCATINE, Iowa–Along with founding the Racial Justice Fund in July 2020, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine formed a volunteer Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to further the work of closing racial gaps in educational and economic opportunities. As part of this work, the Committee recommended creating a website to highlight efforts in the community to promote racial justice and to honor Muscatine residents from the past and present who work to make their the county a more welcoming place. This brainstorming led to the creation of Celebrate Muscatine, a youth developed website for the Community Foundation.
Beginning in June 2020, three local youth, Megan Custis, Daniel Salazar, and Destiny Williams, along with the Community Foundation’s Marketing Specialist, Natalie Jones, partnered to develop the website. Their work led to the creation of four distinct pages of the website.
Their history page explores notable figures from Muscatine’s past, especially those who worked towards creating a more equal society. These include an overview of the Native American tribes who first lived in Muscatine, Alexander Clark, who successfully brought a case to the state supreme court to end segregation in Iowa schools, and the profiles of groundbreaking Muscatine women compiled through the Muscatine Women of Influence and Inspiration project.
Looking to the present day, Celebrate Muscatine also lifts up local people and businesses working for a more equitable world with their stories page. This area also includes videos from each Racial Justice Grant recipient, explaining what their organization does and how they will use their grant to further their work.
As the Celebrate Muscatine team continues to research ways community members can promote equality and diversity, they collect the materials they find and place them on their ever expanding resources page. They hope these items will promote productive and positive conversation.
Finally, for those looking to get involved, Celebrate Muscatine includes an events page. This section showcases local events sponsored by the Community Foundation and others that focus on topics relating to racial justice.
After several months of developing their site, Custis, Salazar, and Williams did a soft launch for it following the virtual Behold the Dreamers inclusive dialogue sponsored by the Community Foundation, Muscatine Community College, and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security Nov. 13, 2020. When the site went up for the general public Jan. 1, they hoped many people would visit it and enjoy its fun and unique design and use it as a tool to learn about Muscatine’s many exceptional leaders.
Reflecting back on their work so far, Custis feels honored to have worked on the project: “I would say it’s definitely a privilege to be involved in this work. I think it’s really exciting that the community saw a need to celebrate people of the past and see that there’s still work to be done to make the community a better place.” As she and her colleagues continue their work, she looks forward to receiving input from community members and further growing the site. You may see their work at https://www.celebratemuscatine.org/.