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22nd Annual I'll Make Me a World in Iowa/Celebration Day

  • 730 3rd Street | Des Moines, IA 50309
  • Dates: January 25, 2020
  • Location: Iowa Events Center
  • Start/End Time: 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Price: Admission to Celebration Day is FREE
  • Overview

    Be sure to mark your calendars for the 22nd Annual Iowa African American Festival Celebrating African American Art’s Culture & Contribution at the Iowa Events Center! Saturday, January 25, 2020 from 11 am - 7 pm!

    History & Overview - MISSION: I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa (IMMAWII) is a diverse collaboration of Iowans, which highlights African-American arts, culture and contributions through education, awareness and preservation during an annual enrichment celebration and with continual educational outreach.

    HISTORY: Now celebrating its 21st year, I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa was founded in 1998 in response to a national PBS and Blackside Productions challenge for communities to develop programs highlighting African American arts and culture to connect with their February 1999 national broadcast of the “I’ll Make Me a World” mini-series. A core group of Iowa volunteers embraced the challenge and created their own vision, IMMAWII.

    IMMAWII delivered with a day-long schedule of African-American arts and culture presenters and exhibitors at the State Historical Building on January 30, 1999. With a headlining national artist and a broad range of musicians, actors, singers, storytellers, visual artists, soul food and exhibitors, the anticipated crowd of 300 became a realized audience of over 1000 patrons. IMMAWII was lauded for filling a niche that impacted so many lives and championing the fact that African American history is all Americans’ History and all Iowans benefit in knowing this.

    Since then, with the assistance of the community, collaborators and supportive sponsors IMMAWII has been able to expand programming to include Educational Outreach activities, Education Day and collaborative touring projects. Attendance has consistently grown; the two days of programming attract over 20,000 people from across Iowa and throughout the Midwest and IMMAWII impacts many others through its outreach and strong publicity. (Sponsors are continually recognized throughout IMMAWII programming and publicity.) IMMAWII is known as the first major festival of the year; the inspiration for other major ethnic festivals in Iowa and the state’s kick-off to Black History Month.

    MAKING HISTORY: On February 27, 2006, in a monumentally historic moment, IMMAWII’s theme song, written by Jazz singer Effie Burt was unanimously adopted by the Iowa Legislature as a State Song for Iowa. The song, which bears festival’s name, takes its place in history alongside our other state song. IMMAWII is the 2009 recipient of Iowa’s highest diversity honor, the Iowa One award, presented by the Lt. Governor’s office. In 2010 the Organization won the Des Moines Branch NAACP President’s Award for Outstanding Organization and in 2011 IMMAWII was named an Iowa Success Story by the internet Giant, Google (See the video Google produced at

    IMMAWII PAST HEADLINERS: Former headliners include Larenz Tate, Anthony Anderson, Boris Kodjoe, Morris Chestnut, Shemar Moore, Kenny Lattimore, Blair Underwood, Vivica Fox, Billie Dee Williams, Howard Hewett, Malcolm-Jamaal Warner, Hill Harper, Victoria Rowell, Lynn Whitfield, Bev Smith, GregAlan Williams, Giancarlo Esposito and Ruben Studdard.