Abena Imhotep’s Top Spots

Abena Imhotep at Edna Griffin Park. Photographer: Duane Tinkey.

Writer: Teresa Zilk

Activist, TEDx speaker, consultant, writer and podcaster Abena Imhotep is the founder and executive director of Sankofa Strategies Consulting, which focuses on fostering conversations on inclusion and equity in businesses and organizations.

The Des Moines native is also the founder of the Sankofa Literary & Empowerment Group (SLG) and the SLG Book Club. Both promote literacy and lifelong learning by celebrating works by African American authors. Her podcast, called “Black & Privileged in America,” is co-hosted by Jay Vodun.

Here, Imhotep shares some of her favorite local spots where you can experience the city’s rich diversity.


Celebrity International Clothing & Food Store, owned by Norah Innis, 3614 Sixth Ave.: “It’s an oasis. You can get your groceries and your shea butter there. It’s beyond the diverse experience for me; it’s a ‘Sankofa’ moment. Sankofa literally means a return to your culture.”

Coffee Break

Slow Down Coffee, 3613 Sixth Ave.: “I love it so dearly because they understand that the community is diverse. They also understand that creatives need respite.”

Hair Salon

LOH Maintenance, owned by Lauren Bundy, located inside Unique Beauty Bar and Hair studio at 4944 Franklin Ave., Suite J: “I go to Lauren because she understands the power of natural hair and the care and the consideration that it takes to maintain it. She cares for your hair as if it is her own.”

The Outdoors

Edna Griffin Park, 1613 13th St.: “It’s named after a Black woman who was a pioneer in desegregating Des Moines. It was my neighborhood park growing up. I could walk there from my house. We played there. We met our cousins and friends there.

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