Charlie Eastham poses for a portrait outside of High Grounds. Thursday, July 20, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann.
Longtime Iowa City activist Charlie Eastham announced his candidacy for the Iowa City Community School Board (ICCSB) Monday. In a press release, Eastham said he is running for the seat recently vacated by LaTasha DeLoach, to serve the remaining two years on DeLoach’s term.
“I’ve been on the school district’s equity commission for three years now,” Eastham said in a phone interview, explaining that he is motivated to run, so he can work on closing the achievement gap the commission has been studying.
“For quite a while now, black and African American and Hispanic/Latino students have had disproportionately lower proficiency measures in a number of areas, indicating that the district’s educational efforts are not reaching those students.”
“I’m running because I would like to be a part of rectifying that situation,” Eastham said.
Eastham sees working for equity as a school board member as an extension of his decades-long fight for social justice in Iowa City. Eastham has campaigned for racial justice, workers’ rights and affordable housing, among many other issues. He played a lead role in creating the Coalition for Racial Justice and the Black Voices Projects.
Eastham received the Isabel Turner Award from the Iowa City Human Rights Commission in 2015, in recognition of his work on human rights. Despite being honored for a lifetime of activism, in his acceptance speech Eastham was humble about his accomplishments. “I also have to recognize that as a white male I have a lot to learn,’ he said.
Eastham grew up in Texas, and following a four year stint in the Navy, graduated from Texas Christian University. After serving in the Peace Corps in Malaysia, Eastham moved to Iowa City in 1971 to attend the University of Iowa Law School. Eastham and his wife Karen Fox raised a family in Iowa City, and all their children attended the city’s public schools. He retired in 2007 from Health Care Information Systems at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
In addition to serving on the ICCSD Equity Commission, Eastham is also a member of the ICCSD Support for Immigrant Students and Families Taskforce.
The open seat Eastham is running for will be on ballot in the September 12 election.