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Alison Gowans
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The African American Museum of Iowa is unveiling a new exhibit, "Suspended: Systemic Oppression in Our Schools" on Friday, October 14, at the Downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library. It will be on display through the summer of 2023 in the library's third floor gallery. Admission is free, and the exhibit can be viewed anytime during regular library hours.

This original exhibit examines the role public schools play in funneling students into the prison system. Elements of the criminal justice system have entered public schools around the country, resulting in zero tolerance policies and student policing that disproportionately affect children of color.

"Suspended" aims to help visitors learn more and explore ways to dismantle systems that feed the school to prison pipeline. Unlike the museum's previous exhibits, "Suspended: Systemic Oppression in Our Schools," will be installed offsite, at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, while the museum's building, 55 12th Ave. SE, is closed to the public to facilitate a planned $5 million renovation project.

This project will include relocating the building entrance in order to accommodate the City of Cedar Rapids’ flood wall, as well as making upgrades to other aspects of the structure including plumbing and HVAC.

During the closure of the building, the AAMI will continue to engage the public in Iowa’s Black history. In addition to opening "Suspended" at the library, several high-quality traveling versions of the exhibit will also be available for reservation. Currently, plans are in place for these exhibits to travel to Des Moines Public Library, St. Ambrose University, and Waterloo Public Library, and other communities around the state. Additional traveling exhibits and educational programs on a variety of topics are also available from the museum for groups statewide.

Learn more about the exhibit, the renovation plans or AAMI’s campaign, Voices Inspiring Progress, at The African American Museum of Iowa is a statewide museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and teaching Iowa’s African American history. As Iowa’s leading educational resource on the topic, they educate more than 30,000 people each year through in-person and virtual museum tours, traveling exhibits, research services, youth and adult education programs, and community and fundraising events.

Read more about the topics in the exhibit: