Friday, June 5, 2015

Remembering Cecil Ree

Cecil Ree was the first African-American and the only black Republican elected to the Iowa House of Representatives.

The first black to serve Linn County in the Legislature was Republican Cecil Reed. He was elected in 1966 and began his term with another newly elected legislator from Des Moines, June Franklin, a Democrat.Cecil Reed Mr. Reed operated a successful floor maintenance business and, with his wife, opened the Sepia Motel “for the exclusive accommodation of Negro people who are traveling across the country” in 1953. He was the first black in the state of Iowa to become a member of a Chamber of Commerce, and he was the first to become a member of the Knights of Columbus in Cedar Rapids. After his term, Reed was appointed by Gov. Harold Hughes as Iowa Employment Security Commissioner. From that post, he became an official with the federal Department of Labor out of Kansas City. Cecil Reed died at his home in Cedar Rapids on Aug. 14, 2006, at the age of 92.