Who We Are
The Des Moines Urban Experience is a 501(c)(3) organization that was established in February 2015 and received custodianship of Iowa Juneteenth in October 2015. Since 2015 we have focused mainly on the Iowa Juneteenth celebration, which takes place annually in June.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the June 19th, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in the United States of America.
The Iowa Juneteenth Observance has been in existence for 30 years, and was founded by Gary Lawson (Founder & General Chair Emeritus of IJO) in 1990. On April 11, 2002 the Iowa Juneteenth holiday was made an official holiday. It is our desire to promote the "spirit" of Juneteenth throughout the year.
Empowering Iowa through Juneteenth: Our vision is to cultivate a community where the profound history and vibrant culture of Juneteenth are not only acknowledged but celebrated as essential pillars of our shared identity. We envision an Iowa that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion by fostering an understanding of Juneteenth's significance. Through dynamic educational initiatives, impactful events, and collaborative partnerships, our organization aspires to spark a transformative cultural shift, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all Iowans. We strive for a future where the lessons and values of Juneteenth contribute to a more just, compassionate, and unified society for generations to come.