Kesho Scott Recognized at Iowa Capitol for Her Work in Education and Diversity

March 05, 2019

On her 66th birthday, Kesho Scott, associate professor of sociology and American studies, received a special gift – a standing ovation from members of the Iowa House of Representatives in the House Chambers.


Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, recognized Scott on Feb. 27 for her contributions to education and diversity in Iowa, the nation, and the world. Each day during February, representatives had the opportunity to honor an African-American during the Black History Month Spotlight immediately following the start of the day’s session.


“I first met Dr. Kesho Scott in the mid-1990s while participating in one of her life-changing Unlearning Racism workshops,” Gaines said. “As a result of participating in her workshop, I became an avid fan and followed her career. I was spellbound when I watched her appear as a creative writer and keynote speaker on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other national TV programs. . .  I keenly admire Dr. Scott for her dignity, her scholarship, and her commitment to positive change.”

Gaines shared some of Scott’s numerous accomplishments, including:

  • Teaching courses in American studies and sociology at five Chinese national universities;
  • Accepting an invitation from the Ministry of Education to present at the first Women’s Studies Conference in Shanghai, China;
  • Serving locally, nationally, and internationally as a recognized Diversity and Inclusion Trainer, conducting more than 324 trainings and workshops over more than 30 years;
  • Being an Invited guest and keynote speaker and conference presenter at more than 288 events throughout the United States;
  • Winning an American Book Award;
  • Receiving the 2008 Cristine Wilson Medal of Equality and Justice; and
  • Speaking at the National Women’s March in Des Moines on Jan. 21, 2017.

Scott’s birthday turned into a double-header celebration when she gave the keynote address the next evening at the Freedom Fund Banquet sponsored by the Ames Chapter of the NAACP. Eight of her students and representatives of the faculty and staff attended the dinner, where Scott spoke about Turning the Wheel of Justice Together!

In her speech, Scott noted that the seeds to her life of service were planted when she was 10 years old and received her NAACP membership card at her church in Detroit. “We took the NAACP Pledge and my card was signed by a ‘real’ NAACP representative from Baltimore. As I saw it – I had political creds!”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” Scott noted, “was a bi-racial civil rights organization, formed in 1909, to advance justice for African Americans, and end race-based discrimination.”

As she concluded her keynote address, Scott looked around her and said she saw “a room full of change agents capable of continuing the work of turning the wheel of justice together.”

She urged audience members to “Burn that image into your mind and make it a daily mantra that ‘What I do counts,’ so you can pen your name to our future by your actions.”

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