University of Iowa Makes Amends for Slighting Its African American Beauty Queen in 1955

iowaIn December 1955, Dora Martin Berry was elected Miss State University of Iowa. (Since 1964 the educational institution has been known as the University of Iowa.) Berry was the first African American to be chosen to serve in the post.

However, due to the color of her skin, Berry was denied recognition as Miss SUI at official ceremonies where past holders of the post were honored. Some events were cancelled rather than have to showcase an African American as the campus queen.

Bruce Harreld, president of the University of Iowa, recently apologized to Berry at a campus alumni event. He said “unfortunately, the university administration never officially recognized or even acknowledged her victory or status. The best they could do at that time was to offer an official ‘no comment,’ since they said the election was a student matter, not part officially of the university.”

President Harreld went on to address Berry who was present at the ceremony by saying, “Dora Martin Berry of the University of Iowa, I would like to apologize for 60 years plus of official neglect of your status. We as an institution are very proud of your accomplishments and we’re grateful that you are such an important member of our Hawkeye family.”


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