See the story of how co-founders Mary Campos and Wayne Ford came together over 30 years ago to start the Brown And Black Forum.

Mary Campos

Co-Chair & Founder

Mary Dominguez Campos was born in McAlester, Oklahoma and as a child, her family moved to Des Moines, Iowa. There she became an advocate for woman and children rights and helped to establish better relationships between people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Along with her involvement in the community she was also the first Latina co-chair of the Iowa Brown-Black Presidential Forum, the nation’s only Presidential forum that addresses the important issues that impact the Black and Hispanic communities in Iowa.

Campos and several others formed the Iowa Democratic Hispanic Caucus in 1985 and she was an officer of the caucus through 2010, after which she was a member of the state Central Committee for four years. She was co-chair of the Polk County Democratic convention in 1992.

In 1995, she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2005, she was awarded the prestigious “Otlei” award from the Secretary of Interior Mexican government, and the “Lifetime Achievement” award from the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. In 2007, she received the Toastmasters International “Communication and Leadership” award. In 2009, she and Ford were winners of The Des Moines Register’s prestigious Iowa Star Award for their work with the Brown & Black Forum and its role in maintaining Iowa’s “first in the nation” status.

Mary has worked many years registering the voters for the Iowa Democratic Party and has worked on many campaigns. She also spends countless hours helping non-English speaking families who are relocating to central Iowa to become better informed about social and health issues and helping them to become United State citizens.


Wayne W. Ford

Co-Chair & Founder


Ford hosted his first U.S. Presidential Forum in 1976. The organization was named Concerned Citizens for Minority Affairs; and many presidential candidates, including Gov. Jimmy Carter, for whom Ford later became Iowa State Minority Coordinator, sent surrogates. In 1984, Ford and Latino community leader Mary Campos co-founded the Brown & Black Presidential Forum (bbpresforum.org), which is the nation’s oldest ongoing minority presidential forum. In 2000 and 2004 the event, which precedes the Iowa caucuses, was televised globally by MSNBC and featured nearly all of the Democratic presidential candidates.  In December, 2007, the Forum was telecast regionally and nationally by HDNet and Mediacom. It was broadcast globally by Sirius Satellite Radio. This was the first time that both HDNet and Sirius had carried a national presidential forum.

Ford’s rise from inner city Washington, D.C., to the Iowa capitol has been chronicled by numerous media outlets, including The Des Moines Register, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Source, BET, HDNet, and Parade. In 2001, award-winning journalist Dan Rather personally selected Ford’s unique life story for his best-selling book, The American Dream.  When he was elected Iowa State Representative in 1996, he became the tenth African-American in the state’s history to hold such a position and was the state’s longest serving black state legislator when he retired 14 years later.

Ford was called “the voice of urban Iowans” during his six year run as host of his own weekly talk show on Des Moines’ WHO radio, one of the few 50,000 watt clear channel AM radio stations in the country. Iowans were also able to get Ford’s perspectives through columns in Des Moines Press Citizen Shopper and his weekly “View from the Hill” article to in the The Des Moines Register.  He returned to the air waves in 2011 with “Wayne Ford Wants U” on Mediacom cable television, seen in five Midwestern states.

Because of Iowa’s having had the most disproportionately high rate of black male incarceration, Ford authored landmark legislation during the 2008 legislative session which made Iowa the first state in the nation to require a minority impact statement with respect to both new criminal laws and state contracts.  This landmark legislation was profiled by The Sentencing Project of Washington, D.C., and The National Law Journal.

Ford has been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame, including Rochester Community College’s Alumni Hall of Fame, Des Moines B’nai Brith Sports Hall of Fame, and the Iowa State African-American Hall of Fame. He’s received Drake University’s Double-D award for athletics and civic involvement, and the Shining Star Award from the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, an affiliate of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). He also received the NBCSL Eagle Award for outstanding service to the organization in 2011 and he was appointed to Iowa’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Council and chair of its Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee in 2012.