Iowa City Bike Library putting social justice and racial equity grant money towards new guided bike tour

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Six non-profit organizations in Iowa City are getting a total of $75,000 through the city’s social justice and racial equity grant program.

The program is from the city’s Human Rights Commission, and the Iowa City Bike Library is one of those who applied for the grant.

“We had the idea about a year ago,” Sara Mcguirk, volunteer coordinator for the bike library, said.

Mcguirk said, at the Iowa City Bike Library, they wanted to turn more than just wheels, but also get minds rolling, more recently when it comes to social justice issues. That’s the point of their new “Raise up the Route” series.

“It’s a ride that’s developed to raise up voices in the black community in Iowa City,” Mcguirk said. “And learn about stories in this community that plenty of people do not know exist.”

It’s an audio-guided tour to take people by black-owned businesses, and also, through black historical sites and other destinations like the South District Mural.

“When they arrive at the checkpoints, there will be these apparatuses where they can just push a button or wave their hand and listen to what we’re calling an audio-guided education podcast,” Mcguirk said.

Riders will be able to hear interviews with people involved with the sites or exhibits to bring up questions for riders to think about.

“Questions like, why is this system in place, and how might I be complicit in this system,” Mcguirk said.

It’s also an opportunity to educate on the history of systemic oppression.

“And where people were basically shut out off being allowed to live,” Mcguirk said.

The grant of $4,000 from the Human Rights Commission is paying for the ride. Five other nonprofits also got money.

“It’s really a way for the city to support organizations in the Iowa City area that are doing work for racial equity,” Jason Glass, the vice-chair for the commission, said. “There are so many parts of our community struggling through employment.”

Glass said he feels the annual grants are pushing the goal of social justice and racial equity.

“We get those reports back and then also hear from organization leaders that have received funding. Sometimes, we see things in the media about how the impact that particular project is having so it’s definitely making an impact,” Glass said.

As for the ride, Mcguirk said they plan to have the digital map and resources all ready by June 1, and she’s hoping people can take away tangible ways they can serve black communities.

“Things like where can I spend my time and energy, where can I spend money, and where can I make a difference,” Mcguirk said.

People can learn more about the Iowa City Bike Library on their website.

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