Fields of Opportunity: UI's Black Migration Stories is a three-day event that unites the UI Press publication of Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa during the Long Civil Rights Era and Hancher’s commission of Step Afrika!’s The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence.

Edited by Department of English faculty members Lena M. Hill and Michael D. Hill, Invisible Hawkeyes includes chapters on the departments of Music, Fine Arts, and Theatre—as well as athletics and the Writer’s Workshop—and features testimonials that movingly preserve the memories of black alumni. 

The book began as a project Lena Hill initiated as a participant in the 2011 Creative Campus Institute, co-sponsored by Hancher and the UI Center for Teaching.  Developed during the Institute, Hill's original classroom idea grew into Iowa and Invisible Man: Making Blackness Visible, a week-long residency that explored black student experiences at the University of Iowa from the 1930s through the 1960s. The five-day series of events brought together hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members.

“The stories of black student experiences told in Invisible Hawkeyes resonate powerfully with Step Afrika!’s The Migration,” Lena Hill says. “With a long overdue flourish, Fields of Opportunity recuperates and celebrates the achievements of black Hawkeyes who introduced American pluralism to a Midwestern and a national citizenry that often resisted such progress.”


Wednesday, October 19, 5:00pm

Alumni presentation, Step Afrika! appearance, and Reception at Hancher

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 & 7:30pm

Book signing and Step Afrika! performance at Hancher

Hancher’s commission of Step Afrika!’s The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence results in a work that illuminates both the most prevalent Great Migration accounts that trace rural black Southerners’ journeys to new job opportunities in the urban North and Midwest and the lesser known tales of young black people traveling from numerous cities to the UI.  Come witness how in each case, African Americans spread American pluralism to a Midwestern and a national citizenry that often resisted such progress.

Book tickets for Step Afrika!

Friday, October 21, 3pm

Presentations by contributors to Invisible Hawkeyes at the Iowa City Public Library

RSVP for the events at bit.ly/rsvpfields