Iowa City SURJ Chapter

IC SURJ is a local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. While IC SURJ is based in Iowa City, it encompasses surrounding municipalities in Johnson and Linn counties, including Coralville, North Liberty, and Cedar Rapids.

Formed in the summer of 2016, the Iowa City SURJ chapter aims to encourage and support white people to act with passion and accountability as part of a multi-racial majority for justice. We endeavor to do this work through community organizing, mobilization, education, and partnerships with other racial justice groups locally and nationally.

Iowa City SURJ Manifesto

Iowa City SURJ challenges and dismantles white supremacy through educating and mobilizing white people to advocate and act for racial justice.

Our Action Plan

  1. While our approach includes orienting and activating white people, we are intentionally welcoming of all people who show up in good faith – of any race, gender, class, ability, etc.
  2. We welcome newcomers, recognizing that they bring their own experiences, fears, doubts, and questions.
  3. We set and honor guidelines for communication in order to foster and maintain a safe space at each meeting and event.
  4. We continually inform and educate ourselves by inviting speakers to our meetings and events, staying abreast of local and national racial justice-related discourse, and by reading and discussing relevant texts and other media.
  5. We aim to deepen member’s understanding and consciousness about racism and white privilege.
  6. We work to transcend white supremacist cultural expectations by acting courageously and taking risks while not fearing our own mistakes or discomfort.
  7. We believe people of color when they share their experiences with racism.
  8. As individuals, we connect and collaborate as accomplices with partner organizations and persons of color.
  9. As a group, we complement and support other ongoing community activism.
  10. We focus on leadership development of our members for bold and outspoken advocacy.
  11. We are responsive and accountable, leading when asked by collaborators.


From its inception, the United States has exploited, brutalized, and dehumanized people of color. The history of this country is one of racism and oppression, from the genocide of indigenous communities to the enslavement of Africans, the imprisonment of Asian-Americans during World War II, and the mistreatment of immigrants and refugees from Latin American and Middle Eastern countries. This legacy of violence against people of color continues into the present day. Racism is deeply embedded into the fabric of our communities, our institutions, and ourselves, and it is alive and well in our country, our state, and our city.

The Iowa City community tends to think of itself as progressive, accepting, and open-minded. And while this is certainly true to some extent, it is clear that we have work to do to confront the racism in our own backyard. Too often, the white population’s response to people of color talking about racism they experience here ranges from disbelief to defensiveness to outright character-smearing. In truth, white people are in no place to question the lived experience of people of color. Instead, it is critically important that we listen to and believe people of color when they tell us about the racism in our community and that we use our privilege to explicitly name and challenge the system of white supremacy that underpins it. In the fight to dismantle white supremacy, we must center the voices and experiences of those who are directly impacted by racism. All people deserve to feel welcome, safe, and empowered in our community. Until that vision becomes a reality, we have work to do.

It is with this recognition of the racism from our past to the present day that we share the manifesto statement above.

– This manifesto is a response to a request from Midwest Telegraph, a partner organization seeking to help justice organizations know about each other so they may better unite toward our collective liberation.

About SURJ

Through community organizing, mobilization, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.

We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills, and political analysis to act for change.

We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity, and a sustainable world.

SURJ National Website