Des Moines Human & Civil Rights Commission honored for ‘Building Bridges’ documentary


By Business Record Staff

The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission was selected as the 2020 Governor’s Emmy Award recipient by the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for its documentary “Breaking Bread, Building Bridges.”

The online documentary, which has been viewed more than 17,000 times on YouTube and Facebook, was a project conceived and directed by the commission’s director, Joshua Barr, to determine what happens when people are put together based on their differences and have meals together.

The Governor’s Emmy Award honors visionary, long-standing relationships that creatively and effectively use corporate, nonprofit and broadcast resources to showcase the power of broadcasting to advance a mission or message.

Joshua V. Barr, the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission Director and also the Director of the documentary.

“This is the most prestigious award from the Emmy’s Midwest Chapter because it is the only one voted on directly by their Board of Governors, which represents all media professionals from TV stations and various other platforms across the five-state region,” said John Murray, the organization’s executive director.

The Breaking Bread project started in 2017 when more than 150 people signed up to participate; eventually 34 people were selected as finalists. Participants were matched with an individual with a unique difference and had five different dinners together that took place in five settings over the course of a few months from 2017 to 2018.

According to Barr: “The purpose of this project was to see if in light of the ever-growing polarization of our country, could we get people to come together despite differences in their race, sex, religion, sex orientation, etc. and find the commonalities that they shared.”  


The documentary was filmed and edited by Digital Matters Productions and debuted online on April 30.  

“In light of everything that is happening in our country and the world, we hope that this documentary can be an example of how people can transcend their differences and connect with others,” Barr said. “On this planet that we share, we have much more in common than we do apart. We want to send a special thank you to all 34 participants who participated in the project and film. And a special thank-you to Judge Colin Witt, who is no longer with us.”

The award will be presented during the 21st Annual Upper Midwest Emmy Awards video ceremony on Nov. 14, on the Upper Midwest Emmys YouTube channel.

The documentary can be viewed on YouTube at


and on Facebook at

Article originally published on the Business Record

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