Posted by: Josh Hinkle | January 17, 2009

Back to Buxton

It was the first time in seven months spectators stepped foot in the African American Museum of Iowa. Its building was one of the many cultural centers touched by flood waters last summer in Cedar Rapids. Most of the necessary $1.2-million would go toward damaged exhibits. Greeting guests this weekend was a century-old coal mining town. Photos, building facades, and an in-depth (although perhaps overshadowed by flood curiosity) look at Buxton, Iowa.

Of all of the state’s coal communities, Buxton was the largest and one of the most lucrative. The town’s mine lasted from 1900 to 1922, during which black residents made up more than half the population.  The Monroe County town was very unusual for this part of the nation. Most establishments were racially integrated and some of the state’s most esteemed black professionals worked there, including the first black doctor to graduate from thimg_00741e University of Iowa’s medical school. As the mine dried up, so did the town. Residents moved on, leaving behind a moment in history ahead of its time in the fight for racial equality.

Speaking with the museum’s executive director, Tom Moore, I understood his drive to raise much of the money to rebuild.  His passion for preserving African American history never seems to falter. As the building began to fill up with spectators anxious for a glimpse inside after the flood, it reminded me that what I and the others would learn from the exhibit wouldn’t be possible without a man like Moore and his cultural and community pride.

Check out Iowa Public Television’s article on The Great Buxton and my complete KCRG-TV9 story on the African American Museum’s Re-opening after the flood.




  1. Enjoyed the post Josh… keep up the good work!

  2. I grew up about 10 miles from Buxton…my mom was born near there and her dad worked in the mines and had many black friends. Thanks for helping to get the story out…not many people have heard of the Buxton story. I hope to get to the museum to see the exhibit.

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