Iowa City’s Diversity Market exemplifies community, opportunity

Shirley P. Olin
A board displays information during a Diversity Market event on Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19, 2021, outside the Kingdom Center Church in Iowa City, Iowa.

On a Saturday afternoon in June, a pop-up market in South District set up at the Kingdom Center Church for its first time. 

Small-business owners became weekend vendors, selling their goods and services from food to clothes to art. Meanwhile, kids’ faces were painted and they played in a bounce house as other festivities rounded out the five-week-long market.

It was the inaugural Diversity Market, an event organized by community business owners, leaders and the South District Neighborhood Association. Organizers had a goal in mind for the market: center and elevate entrepreneurs from marginalized groups — women, Black, Indigenous and people of color — to highlight their services and foster community connections.

But the pop-up market soon proved to be a reflection of who South District is and what is to come.

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