The idea for the National Bar Association (NBA)
Monument began from a dialogue between Iowa National
Bar Association (INBA) past president Odell McGhee
and NBA past president Evette Simmons. The
public art project has been named “A Monumental Journey”
to commemorate the struggle, bravery and hope required
to overcome racism and discrimination.
To preserve the legacy of African American lawyers who,
in 1925, founded and incorporated the National Bar
Association, fully dedicated to civil rights, and
and equality in the legal system.
To create a visually inspiring world class monument
that memorializes the struggle of the National Bar
Association founders and incorporators.
To incorporate a Free Speech
Platform where the voices of all citizens in the
community may be heard.
The site location is on The
Principal Riverwalk in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, west
of the U.S. Federal Courthouse on East 1st Street
between Court Avenue and Walnut Street.
$1,800,000 including a $250,000 maintenance endowment.
The Steering Committee selected an
inspiring African American artist, Kerry James Marshall,
to design the monument. Marshall’s prototype for the
monument is two African drums sitting slightly off
center, atop each other. The sculpture will stand 37
feet by 20 feet on an 80 foot diameter plaza. The
monument incorporates the language of the First
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a speakers’
platform for the celebration of free
speech, a cornerstone of American democracy.
Marshall, the artist, with “A Monumental Journey” model.
Iowa National Bar Association
Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation
National Bar Association
National Association of Bench and Bar Spouses
Des Moines City Council
Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, fiscal agent
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Inc.
Des Moines Parks and Recreation
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Principal Financial Group
Riverfront Development Authority