In the 1860s, shortly after the Civil War, a teenager from Muscatine, Iowa, tried to enroll in the local high school. She was denied admission because she was black. Her father sued and won. When the school board challenged the decision in the Iowa Supreme Court, he won again. Because of the actions of Alexander Clark, Iowa's schools were desegregated more than 85 years before the rest of the nation officially outlawed school segregation.

This collection of video segments from the Lost in History: Alexander Clark documentary explores Clark's historic court victory, his prominent anti-slavery role, his recruitment of black soldiers for the Union side in the Civil War and his appointment as a U.S. ambassador to Liberia. 

These resources offer compelling connections to Iowa History and U.S. History concepts for grades 5-12, including:

  • Individual and institutional influences on the civil rights movement
  • Characteristics of the abolition movement 
  • Changes in the political and social structure of different regions after the Civil War
  • Important milestones in advancing civil rights
  • Significant influences on the civil rights movement, including the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case

Access video segments on PBS LearningMedia

View video segments on IPTV’s YouTube channel

Find additional video, background information and classroom resources on IPTV's Iowa Pathways website.

Video excerpts were provided courtesy of the Communication Research Institute of William Penn University, the producers of the Lost in History: Alexander Clark documentary.