When Erin Haggerty was just a teen, her father George Barlow moved the family from Union City, California to the stark, white landscapes of Iowa. At the time, Erin was excited by the prospect of moving to a new place. But she soon realized that, as one of the only Black teens in her community, life would not always be so picturesque.

Photo: (L) George embracing (R) Erin at her high school graduation in 1991. Courtesy of Erin Haggerty.

Erin spent years trying to find her sense of belonging in this new town. But overtime, she began to withdraw into herself. Her father George had always assumed Erin was just a shy teen; someone who kept to herself, was well behaved, and had no interest in high school parties. 

But in August of 2020, Erin opened up to George for the first time about what it was like being a young Black woman in Iowa, and how it was his words and kindness that saw her through those difficult times.

Top Photo: (L) Erin Haggerty and her father (R) George Barlow in 2010. Courtesy of Erin Haggerty.
Bottom Photo: Three year old (L) Erin with her father (R) George in 1975. Courtesy of Erin Haggerty.

Originally aired September 18, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.