"I Am The Future" - Standing On the Shoulders of the Past
A PACG Black History Month Project
It was decided that our goals for this project included
- preserving local Black history
- educating our communities, and
- inspiring our membership in activism.
The following individuals agreed to speak to us about their experiences. These are short bios that help explain who they are:
Rev. Gabriel Barber III
Gabriel Barber was born in Clarksville, Missouri and came to the Quad Cities as a young man.
A World War II veteran, he was a US Army truck driver late in the war, eventually ending up in Bremerhaven, Germany. He remembers the winter weather being so cold the drivers could never turn off the motors of the trucks, and he still laughs about the challenges that presented.
Reverend Barber worked for International Harvester at the Farmall Plant in Rock Island for 30 years. He was the pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Davenport for 46 years. An active member of the Rock Island County Nursing Home Board, he ran a health care center and nursing home.
He was the first Black person to serve on the Rock Island County Board of Supervisors, and he served for 30 years. He is also proud to have been a longtime precinct captain of Scott County Democrats, as well as township chair and a member for 25 years.
The Gabe and Lee Barber Park in Rock Island was dedicated to Rev. Barber and his wife, Lee, in 2007.
Rev. Barber spent his life working to ensure that people of color have equal rights and educational opportunities, and he used his political and religious platforms to accomplish these things.
Mayor Bill Gluba
Bill Gluba was born in Davenport, Iowa. As a student at St. Ambrose University in the 1960s, he was active in the Young Democrats of America (YDA), the youth wing of the Democratic Party. His participation in YDA led him to attend the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 along with five other young white men.
He received a bachelor's degree in political science from St. Ambrose and a master's degree in political science from the University of Iowa.
He served on the Scott County, Iowa, Board of Supervisors as well as in the Iowa State House and Senate as a Democrat. He has unsuccessfully run for Congress in Iowa's 1st Congressional District three times, and he served as mayor of Davenport from 2008 to 2015.
Dr. Henry Brockington
Henry Brockington, the youngest of five siblings, was born in Florence, South Carolina, and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a masters in physiology from Catholic University, Washington, DC. He obtained a doctor of chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic while teaching as a full-time faculty member. He was honored by being named the commencement speaker at his Palmer graduation.
He retired from Palmer College of Chiropractic after teaching there for 33 years. Dr. Brockington is proud to have been an educator for 40 years.
He explains: “There are two events that I participated in that I will never forget – the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, and the First Inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. Additionally, the smile on my mother’s face when I graduated from Howard University is another moment that made me very proud. She was my inspiration for as long as I can remember.”
“My philosophy involves a few things,” he says. “Pay it forward. Don’t see injustice and just close your eyes. Treat everyone as a friend until they show you otherwise. Don’t dismiss a person by anything other than their actions.”
Dr. Brockington has received numerous awards for teaching. He also received the President’s Award two times from the NAACP. A member of Scott County Democrats for 25 years, he has served as chair for every committee of the NAACP. He is currently the treasurer for the Quad City Minority Partnership.
Attorney Catherine (Kitty) Alexander
As an undergraduate student at Grinnell College in Iowa, Ms. Alexander and six other young white women went to an event in the Amana Colonies where they heard Dr. Martin Luther King speak. This encounter with Dr. King was a life-changing experience.
Ms. Alexander received her masters at Rosary College and her JD at the University of Iowa. She was an assistant city attorney for the City of Davenport and served on the Iowa Supreme Court Commission on Unauthorized Practice of Law. Her employment history includes being an apprentice labor arbitrator and a visiting lecturer for the University of Iowa, as well as working with the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus, Scott County Bar Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of Iowa.
AbdurRahmaan Howard, Moderator
AbdurRahmaan "Abdur" Howard is a 14-year-old 9th grade student at Davenport North High school, where he is in the dual enrollment program. This will allow him to earn an associate degree from Eastern Iowa Community Colleges while attending high school.
Abdur has a love for the arts, classical music and social justice. The bulk of his time is spent in the musical arena, either at the Adler Theater, attending the symphony; at the Second Baptist Church Music & Arts Academy; or with the Quad City Youth Symphony, where he is a violinist with the String Ensemble. In his spare time Abdur does spoken word poetry at local venues.
Abdur continues to further his education. He has a multitude of career interests, with the medical field at the top of his list.
In June of 2021, Abdur was selected to be a moderator for the PACG “Race, Adolescence and Trauma” webinar, featuring Professor Kristin Henning. His demonstrated maturity and quick mind made him our choice to moderate our Black History Month project this year.
We hired Mickle Communications to videotape the interviews at the MLK Interpretive Center in Davenport. The Putnam Museum has expressed interest in showing our video as part of their Black History Month programming. We hope to be able to announce that this will be available on Sunday, February 27th.
Our project title came from a phrase that Glenda's church often uses when speaking of their children: "I'm the future." (This phrase is from the Whiney Houston song The Greatest Love Of All.)
As young men and women in the 1960s and beyond, Gabe, Bill, Henry and Kitty would have thought of themselves as the future. We are grateful to them in so many ways. As Glenda says, "I am benefiting now from these past acts of courage and sacrifice. I made sure my children knew this, and my grandchildren know now they are standing on bent down backs that were not broken by racism."