top of page


I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa (IMMAWII) is a diverse collaboration of Iowans, which highlights African American arts, culture and contributions through education, awareness and preservation during an annual enrichment celebration and with continual educational outreach.


Now celebrating its 25th year, I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa was founded in 1998 in response to a national PBS and Blackside Productions challenge for communities to develop programs highlighting African American arts and culture to connect with their February 1999 national broadcast of the “I’ll Make Me a World” mini-series. A core group of Iowa volunteers embraced the challenge and created their own vision, IMMAWII.


IMMAWII delivered with a day-long schedule of African-American arts and culture presenters and exhibitors at the State Historical Building on January 30, 1999. With a headlining national artist and a broad range of musicians, actors, singers, storytellers, visual artists, soul food and exhibitors, the anticipated crowd of 300 became a realized audience of over 1000 patrons. IMMAWII was lauded for filling a niche that impacted so many lives and championing the fact that African American history is all Americans’ History and all Iowans benefit in knowing this.


Since then, with the assistance of the community, collaborators and supportive sponsors IMMAWII has been able to expand programming to include Educational Outreach activities, Education Day and collaborative touring projects.Attendance has consistently grown; the two days of programming attract over 20,000 people from across Iowa and throughout the Midwest and IMMAWII impacts many others through its outreach and strong publicity. (Sponsors are continually recognized throughout IMMAWII programming and publicity.) IMMAWII is known as the first major festival of the year; the inspiration for other major ethnic festivals in Iowa and the state’s kick-off to Black History Month.


On February 27, 2006, in a monumentally historic moment, IMMAWII’s theme song, written by Jazz singer Effie Burt was unanimously adopted by the Iowa Legislature as a State Song for Iowa. The song, which bears festival’s name, takes its place in history alongside our other state song. IMMAWII is the 2009 recipient of Iowa’s highest diversity honor, the Iowa One award, presented by the Lt. Governor’s office. In 2010 the Organization won the Des Moines Branch NAACP President’s Award for Outstanding Organization and in 2011 IMMAWII was named an Iowa Success Story by Google.


Former headliners include Larenz Tate, Anthony Anderson, Boris Kodjoe, Morris Chestnut, Shemar Moore, Kenny Lattimore, Blair Underwood, Vivica Fox, Billie Dee Williams, Howard Hewett, Malcolm-Jamaal Warner, Hill Harper, Victoria Rowell, Lynn Whitfield, Bev Smith, GregAlan Williams, Giancarlo Esposito and Ruben Studdard.



Performances, art, displays, entertainment, food, fun, health fair



Featuring IMMAWII Black History Game Show competition for students



Fundraiser presented by IMMAWII Advisory Board  See photos >



Addressing African American health disparities through health education and free screening



Involves community libraries, museums, art centers, schools and community students and adults who, continuously supported by IMMAWII, develop programs, including presentations by African-American community leaders and exhibitions of collaborative art


Betty C. Andrews
Executive Director

1535 Linden Street, Suite 100B

 Des Moines, IA 50309



Lenard Bell
Board President



IMMAWII is grateful for the involvement of over 200 volunteers who drive the many elements of the project by participating in the following areas:


IMMAWII BOARD OF DIRECTORS guides the overall operation of the organization.


IMMAWII PLANNING COMMITTEE meets monthly at the IMMAWII Offices. Members lead by serving on one or more sub-committees and are key in creating the successful activities for I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa. Meetings open to public.


IMMAWII ADVISORY BOARD is a statewide assembly of community leaders committed to the IMMAWII vision. This Board presents the Heritage Legacy Awards; host two special annual events: The Embracing Excellence Gala; and supports Planning Committee activities.


IMMAWII COLLABORATING ORGANIZATIONS: African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, Commission on the Status of African-Americans, Creative Visions, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Links, Inc., Iota Zeta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Iowa Nebraska NAACP, Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines Public Schools Community/Adult & Continuing Education, Iowa Public Television, Iowa State University, Des Moines Jack and Jill of America, Inc. University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa Division of Department of Cultural Affairs, Ft. Des Moines Memorial Park & Education Center, Metro Arts Alliance, National Black Child Development Institute – Des Moines, Des Moines NAACP., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, State Historical Society of Iowa, Public Library of Des Moines, VSA arts of Iowa, Urban Dreams, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Central Iowa Blues Society, Outside In: African-American History in Iowa 1838 – 2000, Black Ministerial Alliance, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority , & Des Moines Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Cedar Rapids NAACP.

bottom of page