the Martin Family of Ames – Black History in the Midwest

In celebration of Black History Month, this show profiles a prominent African American family in Ames, Iowa, a practically all-white Midwestern college town.

Archie and Nancy Martin, born into slavery, left Georgia in 1915 with four grown children and headed for Ames when they were in their sixties. Their sons helped them build a large house on the main thoroughfare.

When the Martins found out that black students at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) had trouble finding housing, they opened the second floor of their home to boarders. The story of the Martin family provides a snapshot of racism in a small Midwest college town.

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