Source: US State of Iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation Tuesday declaring Saturday, July 7, 2018, as Edna Mae Griffin Day in Iowa.
Edna Mae Griffin was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1909. She and her husband moved to Iowa in 1947. Edna Mae changed the course of history nearly 70 years ago on July 7, 1948, when she stood up to a drug store for denying her service because she was black.
Edna Mae organized picketing of the establishment, sit-ins, civil lawsuits and a successful lawsuit against the drugstore’s owner for violating Iowa’s 1884 statue against discrimination in public accommodations. Her court battle against the drug store foreshadowed the civil rights movement and became a landmark Iowa Supreme Court case.
Edna Mae went on to found a chapter of the Iowa Congress of Racial Equality and organize Iowans to attend the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington. She has been honored as the recipient of many social justice awards and was inducted into Iowa’s African-American Hall of Fame and Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.
Edna Mae died in February 2000.