Fast facts about African Americans in Omaha

Omaha has staggering poverty, particularly among African Americans, that is disproportionate to its total population. This from a city that has prided itself for forward-development for more than 20 years. The following statistics speak for themselves.


  • The first known Black person to visit the area that became Omaha was an enslaved person called York who owned by William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-06.
  • Free Black pioneers lived in Omaha starting in 1854.
  • Enslaved Black residents lived in Omaha starting in 1854 and lasting through 1861, when the Nebraska Territory made enslavement illegal.
  • Dozens of Black politicians have been elected and appointed to local, state and federal government positions since the 1870s.
  • The first Civil Rights activism in Omaha started in 1872 to desegregate the Omaha School District.
  • Omaha has had Black police since 1881.
  • More than a dozen African American politicians have been elected to the Nebraska Legislature since 1892.
  • Omaha has had Black firefighters since at least 1895.


  • There were 390,007 total residents in Omaha in 2000.
  • Omaha is the 42nd largest city in the US.
  • In 2000 Omaha had 51,910 African American residents; in 2005 there were 49,912
  • African American comprised 13% of Omaha’s total population in 2000.


  • There are 5 Fortune 500 companies in Omaha today.
  • In 2008 there are 2,688 minority-owned businesses in the five-county Omaha metropolitan statistical area.
  • 50% of all minority-owned businesses in Omaha are owned by blacks.
  • In 2004 the median income of a family in Omaha was $44,636
  • That same year the median income of an African American family in Omaha was $25,280.
  • The overall unemployment rate in Omaha is 3.6%.
  • The black unemployment rate in Omaha is 17%.
  • White people make up 89.3% of the workforce in Omaha; blacks make up 5.5%.
  • The white unemployment rate in Omaha is 3.1%; the black unemployment rate is 10.5%.
  • Omaha ranks 8th in the nation for black African American unemployment.
  • Omaha ranks 1st among American cities for the total number of African Americans who qualify as low-income.
  • Only 1 other city in the US has greater disparities between the wealth of blacks and whites.
  • 6.7% of families in Omaha living below poverty line.
  • 1 out of 3 of African American families in Omaha live in poverty.
  • 6 out of 10 black children in Omaha live in poverty.
  • Omaha ranks number 1 among American cities for its total percentage of impoverished black children.


  • 35% of African American students in Omaha do not graduate from high school.
  • Omaha ranks 40th among cities across the US for racial segregation.
  • African Americans comprise 4% of Nebraska’s population.
  • Nebraska’s prisons have a 25% African American population.


This is a map of the racial divide in Omaha, with the image made by Dustin Cable. White: blue dots; African American: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown. Note that the community I grew up in and focus on in this blog is in the upper right hand corner of this image.

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General: History of Racism | Timeline of Racism
Events: Juneteenth | Malcolm X Day | Congress of White and Colored Americans | George Smith Lynching | Will Brown Lynching | North Omaha Riots | Vivian Strong Murder | Jack Johnson Riot
Issues: African American Firsts in Omaha | Police Brutality | North Omaha African American Legislators | North Omaha Community Leaders | Segregated Schools | Segregated Hospitals | Segregated Hotels | Segregated Sports | Segregated Businesses | Segregated Churches | Redlining | African American Police | African American Firefighters | Lead Poisoning
People: Rev. Dr. John Albert Williams | Edwin Overall | Harrison J. Pinkett | Vic Walker | Joseph Carr | Rev. Russel Taylor | Dr. Craig Morris | Mildred Brown | Dr. John Singleton | Ernie Chambers | Malcolm X
Organizations: Omaha Colored Commercial Club | Omaha NAACP | Omaha Urban League | 4CL (Citizens Coordinating Committee for Civil Rights) | DePorres Club | Omaha Black Panthers | City Interracial Committee | Providence Hospital | American Legion | Elks Club | Prince Hall Masons | BANTU
Related: Black History | African American Firsts | A Time for Burning


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