Three Iowans celebrated as 'History Makers' by African American Museum of Iowa
African American Museum of Iowa hosts annual gala Sept. 15
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Three Iowans are being honored in Cedar Rapids this month for their efforts to make their communities a better place.
George Boykin of Sioux City, Kim Cheeks of Des Moines and Melvina Scott of Waterloo have been selected as 2016 History Makers by the African American Museum of Iowa.
The trio is to be honored during the organization’s annual History Makers Gala set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Boulevard SW in Cedar Rapids.
Dr. Vincent Reid, a surgical oncologist and director of surgical oncology at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, is to emcee the event, which pays tribute to Iowans who are role models in their communities.
The honorees selected are “people who have had an opportunity to do something that is trend setting,” added LaNisha Cassell, deputy director at the museum, 55 12th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.
Here is a closer look at this year’s History Makers:
Scott is founder of two not-for-profit organizations in Waterloo: the Cedar Valley Black Veterans Coalition, an organization that focuses on honoring black veterans, and the United Sisters of Black Hawk County, an Iowa networking organization for women of color.
According to a news release from the African American Museum of Iowa, Scott has been “an avid political activist since the beginning of her career in the 1970s.” Scott is active in her community as a tutor, substitute teacher in the Waterloo Community School District and as a coach for youth sports teams.
Cheeks is a program coordinator in the office on the status of African Americans, as well as a member of the Disproportionate Minority Contact Comsmittee in the Des Moines-based Iowa Department of Human Rights.
During her career, Cheeks helped launch preventive screenings for diabetes and cancer in African American men, who are more likely to develop these conditions than any other demographic in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.
She has been a “lifelong activist for the well-being of African Americans in this state,” according to African American Museum of Iowa officials.
Boykin made history when he was the first African American elected to public office in Sioux City as a member of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.
Boykin also recently retired from his position as executive director of the Sanford Community Center of Sioux City, which he held for nearly 50 years.
He has been active in various programs with community youth, according to African American Museum of Iowa officials, including alternative school programs and gang outreach and prevention in the Sioux City Community School District.
This year’s honorees were selected from public nominations narrowed down by a selection committee made up of representatives from around the state, Cassell said. More than 15 individuals were nominated for the honor this year.
The gala is the museum’s only fundraiser, Cassell said. All proceeds from the event go toward funding the museum’s educational department, which hosts programs and traveling exhibits across the state, said Alicia Mayberry, marketing and development associate for the museum.
Mayberry said museum officials hope to raise around $50,000 through the event.
Reservations for the gala can be made online at blackiowa.org. Cost is $50 per person or $500 for a table of 10.
The radio station KHAS plans to broadcast the gala live at khasbd.com.