Fort Dodge children and adults enjoyed ice cream at the City Square Tuesday courtesy of the Webster County Cultural Diversity Team.
The day celebrated diversity in Fort Dodge and specifically honored Edna Griffin
"Basically, she is the Rosa Parks of Iowa," Jamie Anderson, team chairperson, said. "This Ice Cream Social is to celebrate her accomplishments."
On July 7, 1948, Griffin sat at the lunch counter of Katz Drug Store in Des Moines with two friends and her young daughter to buy ice cream. Store manager Maurice Katz, though, denied them, stating that, per store policy, "we don't serve coloreds."
Griffin organized sit-ins and picketed the store while charges were filed against Katz for racial discrimination, a charge he'd received three times prior. Katz was found guilty of violating Iowa's civil rights law for denying Griffin service and fined $50. The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1949.
Anderson described Griffin's story as "inspiring."
"To think that this only happened 60 years ago," she said. "To think how far we've come. We had this lady from Iowa, and it's kind of shocking to think that she was treated that way only 60 years ago."
The Ice Cream Social, the diversity team's fourth, was also intended to promote diversity in Fort Dodge.
"We like to increase awareness of important events in Iowa that relate to civil and human rights," Anderson said. "The diversity team likes to hold events to try to get people out, together, and to meet one another, from different backgrounds. Things like that."
She added, "It's a beautiful day for it."
The Ice Cream Social was held after a special program at the Fort Dodge Public Library.
"We like to do it and have the event after a program at the library, too, to partner with them and catch the crowd as they come out," Anderson said.
The Webster County Cultural Diversity Team was joined by the Fort Dodge Young Professionals, which sponsored the event, providing funds for the ice cream and cones.
"We think this is a great event in town. This is our fourth year sponsoring it," Ashley O'Brion, acting interim president said. "Young Professionals likes to support all types of organizations in the Fort Dodge area, and this is just a great one."
O'Brion said her group supports the diversity team's mission.
"I think the things that they do are great," she said. "This Ice Cream Social is a great way to let people know about the Edna Griffin story, and they also do some other things throughout the year that we support as well."
The Young Professionals also support the cause of diversity, O'Brion said.
"Fort Dodge is a very diverse town. The Young Professionals is a very diverse group. And it's something we support," she said.
For O'Brion and all the Ice Cream Social's volunteers, Tuesday was a fun day.
"Who doesn't like giving little kids cold ice cream cones on a hot day? It's a lot of fun," she said.