Rachelle Chase

Rachelle Chase is a columnist and author of eight published books and novellas (two nonfiction, and six fiction). Her first middle grade fiction book will be released in 2024. She also has extensive experience as a public speaker and senior business analyst/consultant. In 2020, she founded a nonprofit, Uniting Through History. 

My Recent Articles

The Texas history behind Juneteenth

Juneteenth is on my mind. Namely because the federal holiday is coming up on June 19, 2024 and I will be participating in the following Juneteenth events:
• None June 18, 2024, 6:00 - 7:30 PM—Author Talk and Book Signing with fellow author Jim Tillman at the African American Museum of Iowa
• None June 19, 2024, 12:30 - 9:30 PM—Emceeing and sharing history, plus working a puppet in Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre’s “Remembering Buxton” show, at Ottumwa’s “Unity in the Community” Juneteenth celebratio

Don't delete your social media accounts

It’s strange to launch a new column with a post about the joys of not posting. On March 5, 2024, when I—along with 500,000+ Facebook users and 70,000+ Instagram users—was kicked off both platforms, I had a fleeting sense of joy. Wouldn’t that be great if they were gone? I thought. Then I’d have a valid excuse for my sporadic posts. And when they both came back up, I thought, Wouldn’t it be great to pretend they hadn’t?

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X only met once. Here’s the story behind an iconic image.

On March 26, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X met for the first and only time.

The men were two of the most influential Black activists of the 20th century—and had long been pitted against each other in the media. They had both come to the U.S. Senate for the outcome of the vote on the Civil Rights Act.

For King, this was a big moment. In January, he’d been named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.” In October, he would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his non-violent struggle fo

Opinion: Iowa private school benefits from school choice; wish there were more like them

Over the past couple of months, as I watched an expansive school choice program implemented in Iowa, I kept thinking about a 2004 study co-authored by Anita Fleming-Rife, whom I’d interviewed for another column. The article was titled, “The More Public School Reform Changes, the More It Stays the Same: A Framing Analysis of the Newspaper Coverage of Brown v. Board of Education.”

The study points out that, during the 1950s, after the Brown decision enforced the integration of public schools, cha

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Bri Martin launched a successful travel agency — during COVID

Rachelle Chase started Trailblazers & Trendsetters, an occasional feature in the Des Moines Register, to shine the spotlight on Iowans who are taking charge and making a difference in their own way.

At a time when most people make their own travel arrangements, a personalized travel service probably isn’t the first start-up business that pops into one’s mind.

It wasn’t the first idea for Bri Martin, either. Martin founded Alexander’s Retreat, “a travel agency specializing in honeymoon and dest

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Iowa author Leigh Michaels wrote more than 100 books

Rachelle Chase shines the spotlight on Iowans who are taking charge and making a difference in their own way in Trailblazers & Trendsetters, an occasional feature in the Des Moines Register.

Leigh Michaels (whose legal name is LeAnn Lemberger) is a successful author of more than 100 books. But that doesn’t stop the haters.

One time, a student from Des Moines' Drake University, her alma mater, was interviewing her for an article.

Michaels said, “The student said, 'My professor wanted me to ask

King of Busoga, Uganda, visits the Iowa State Fair to view agriculture in Iowa

It’s not every day that a king visits Iowa. On Monday, His Majesty William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV, King of Busoga, Uganda, spent the day at the Iowa State Fair.

His Majesty — along with his personal secretary John Kairu; security/logistics officer Karoli Mwiiru; executive director of Developing Lives, Livelihoods and Nutrition Daniel Kitimbo; and national director of Iowa State University–Uganda Program Dr. Gideon Nadiope — were there to learn about agriculture in Iowa.

Though the Kyaba

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Dana James brings Black Iowa News to print. Here's why.

Rachelle Chase shines the spotlight on Iowans who are taking charge and making a difference in their own way in Trailblazers & Trendsetters, an occasional feature in the Des Moines Register. Know someone who should be featured in this series? Contact Rachelle at rchase@registermedia.com.

Dana James, publisher of Black Iowa News, is hard at work not only producing, writing and promoting, along with managing freelance journalists, for BlackIowaNews.com and the newsletter, but she’s also working o

Des Moines man rode in some of the first 17 RAGBRAIs. Now 74, he's back

Riders stopped him and asked to take a selfie with him. Dozens of others complimented him on his stylish cycling kit.

It was a warm welcome from fellow cyclists on RAGBRAI this week for 74-year-old Des Moines native Terrence Welton after his fellow riders learned he had ridden in some of the earliest RAGBRAIs in the 1970s.

Welton participated annually for 17 years before taking an around 30-year hitatus.

He decided to join the 50th anniversary RAGBRAI this year, riding with a friend and his s

Filmmaker in Iowa for RAGBRAI to share history of Black 1899 cycling champion Major Taylor

As the 20th century was dawning, bicycle racing was one of most popular spectator sports in the U.S. and Marshall “Major” Taylor, a Black cyclist from Indianapolis, was one of its biggest international stars.

By 1898, 20-year-old Taylor held seven world records and in August 1899 he had reached world championship status after winning the one-mile sprint in the world cycling championships in Montreal.

When he retired in 1910, he’d won thousands of dollars and made headlines across the U.S., Aus

Opinion: Nearly 1 in 4 Iowans eat less than 1 vegetable per day. This drive-through could help.

Iowans could use some help with “active living and healthy eating.”

Only 27.1% of adult Iowans have a healthy body weight, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health's June 2022 Healthy Iowans: Iowa’s State Health Assessment report. And while the federal 2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults and adolescents eat 2½ to 4 cups of vegetables and 1½ to 2½ cups of fruit daily, Healthy Iowans revealed that 22.7% of adult Iowans eat less than one vegetable per day and 40.4% eat less that

Opinion: 'Swine Republic' proves Iowa's water is contaminated. Can it help force change?

As I write this, "The Swine Republic: Struggles With the Truth About Agriculture and Water Quality" is temporarily out of stock on Amazon. According to Steve Semken, publisher at Ice Cube Press, demand is high, and the book is now in its third printing since it was released May 19.

It's popular because Iowa’s water is contaminated. Its Corn Belt pollutants, a cocktail of fertilizer and manure, nitrogen and phosphorus, travel from Iowa's rivers and streams to the Mississippi River and then to th

OPINION: Homosexuality in Uganda is now punishable by death. LGBTQ+ Ugandans need help

“They are going to start killing us,” Henry Mukiibi, an LGBTQ+ activist and founder of Uganda’s Children of the Sun Foundation, told me Monday.

Mukiibi is afraid because Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023,into law that day.

The bill — to which minor revisions were made at Museveni’s request in April — still mandates these harsh sentences: the death penalty to those convicted of committing “aggravated homosexuality”; life in prison if convicted of “committ

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Marissa Friesen sells handmade clothes, teaches joy of sewing

It’s Me-Made-May and sewist Marissa Friesen is joining thousands of creatives around the globe by wearing her handmade clothing every day in May.

“It's kind of nice to see how most of my closet has changed from only store-bought stuff to mostly handmade.” Her goal is for all her clothing to be handmade.

Friesen is the founder of RisSewn, where she sells her handmade clothing and accessories, takes custom orders, and offers in-person classes to teach others the joy of sewing. In fact, her next

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Peckish for a Kool-Aid pickle? Seth Watson offers 37 flavors.

Tropical punch. Peach mango. Green apple. Black Mamba. Black Panther. What are these? Just a few of the 37 original and signature Kool-Aid pickle flavors Seth’s Flavor of Pickles offers.

Before they became a TikTok trend in 2021, Kool-Aid pickles have been popular in the South seemingly forever — well, not before 1927 when Kool-Aid was invented. Sometimes called a Koolickle or Pickoola, they’re especially popular in the Mississippi Delta region. Especially among Black people.

Sethethel Watson,

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: At 8, Solomon Ondoma treated wounds. Now he's a neurosurgeon.

Rachelle Chase shines the spotlight on Iowans who are taking charge and making a difference in their own way in Trailblazers & Trendsetters, a weekly feature in the Des Moines Register. Know someone who should be featured in this series? Contact Rachelle at rchase@registermedia.com.

Solomon Ondoma always knew he would become a doctor.

During holiday breaks from kindergarten through first grade, he'd hang out with his mother at the military hospital in Uganda — where she was a psychiatric nurse

Opinion: Maybe I’m the ‘Nefarious’ target audience, but I wasn’t moved

I stumbled upon the movie "Nefarious" and decided to go see it. It wasn’t the movie itself that intrigued me enough to decide to go see it. It was the marketing of the movie.

“Nefarious” is being marketed as a horror film. Though “Christian” and “faith-based” appeared in reviews, the words were missing from the movie description, posters, and theater advertising.

I was curious: How could you omit those words from all marketing, label “Nefarious” a horror movie, and expect non-religious viewers

LGBTQ Ugandans already suffer imprisonment, torture. Now they could face the death penalty.

LGBTQ Ugandans are being threatened and beaten as the nation's president weighs signing legislation that would make merely identifying as LGBTQ a crime and other aspects of homosexuality an offense that could result in the death penalty.

I recently interviewed activist Henry Mukiibi in the Ugandan city of Entebbe. Mukiibi is founder of Children of the Sun Foundation, which provides health care, shelter and advocacy for vulnerable LGBTQ Ugandans.

Within hours of our interview, the hardships fac

Opinion: A year later, Rachelle Chase has new feature and reflects on what's next

It is hard to believe that March 14 will mark my one-year anniversary at the Register. This past year I’ve felt fortunate that both my manager, opinion editor Lucas Grundmeier, and executive editor Carol Hunter, have allowed me to “find my voice” — a phrase that has reverberated in my head ever since I read my former colleague, the esteemed Rekha Basu’s book, “Finding Her Voice.”

New feature, "Trailblazers & Trendsetters," is part of my “voice”

Since I oftentimes amplify the stories and histor

Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Basi Affia launches Iowa's first Black comic book company

A flagship is pummeled by debris in deep space. The crackle of flames, slap of running feet, explosions, firing of “plasma weapons,” growls of aliens, and an original theme song fill the air. Images of a multicultural crew of captains and admirals and heroes — two teen engineers — slide on and off the screen. Voice actors bring the crew to life.

No, it’s not an animated version of Marvel’s new "Alien" comic series. It’s “Lost With All Hands — The Motion Comic” by Sensi’il Studios LLC, Iowa’s fi

Opinion: Youth town hall unites all to end violence

It was powerful watching everyone bring “it takes a village to raise a child” to life. People were emotional. People were passionate. People were ready for action as they shared their concerns.

Hundreds of people filled the room and stood along the back walls before spilling out into the lobby of Des Moines’ Masonic Lodge on Monday for a youth town hall, an event spearheaded by RJ Miller, executive director of Greater Opportunities, in response to the fatal shootings at Starts Right Here charte

Opinion: Everyone should know the history behind Black History Month. It's applicable today.

It’s ironic that, amid the celebration of Black History Month, headlines tell of diversity programs being gutted and content that some conservatives find offensive being stripped from Advanced Placement African American history courses.

Predictable backlash against "The 1619 Project" docuseries has hit social media since it first aired Jan. 26. Some Iowans have promised renewed plans to ban critical race theory and prevent "indoctrination" in public schools. On Monday, I listened to mothers, mo
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