Meet your neighbor- Honesty Parker


The best-kept secret in Des Moines is Honesty Parker, a dynamic poet and storyteller with over 20 years of experience performing and teaching poetry in workshops in both Iowa and Minnesota.


Deeply inspired by her own family history and curious about the past, she set out to write a book. The result was “African Americans in Des Moines and Polk County,” a visually rich and historical depiction of African American life in Iowa.


“I’ve wanted to write a book about the African American community for a long time,” said Parker. “When I began writing the book, I thought it was going to be really fast. I didn’t think there was much history. I knew about Center Street, but didn’t know anything beyond that. I started to do research and was amazed that there was so much more,” said Parker who also used early publications of the Iowa Bystander and websites such as as research tools.


Word  of mouth quickly spread about what she was doing. Parker said family, friends, and acquaintances began sending her old photos to include in the book. She said, “I began to see the connections. I found out about different people and how they came to Des Moines and why they came. This book is a celebration of that community. There was a level of respect that was maintained. They were a community of supportive adults who looked out for their children.”

Parker said she hopes that her book encourages more young people to learn about their history.
For more information contact Honesty Parker at



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