North Omaha’s African American culture has grown and changed dramatically since its founding in 1854. One of the main drivers of the culture for more than a century has been the Black media. From the time Omaha’s first Black newspaper was published in 1889 through Shanelle Williams’ continued use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media today to build the African American community in Omaha, Black media has continued to transform the North Omaha community and the city at large.
Mobs have terrorized Omaha since the city was founded in 1854. Defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims,” terrorism was been the weapon of Omaha’s mobs from the beginning. Early on, they were seemingly concerned with horse thieves, claim jumping and break-ins. In more recent times, mobs attacked people in Omaha because of their race and ethnicities. 50 years ago, mobs lashed out at businesses. Notably, there haven’t been any mob terror trials, monuments, or other acknowledgments of the acts of the masses in Omaha throughout its 160+ years of existence.
For more than 15 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been fighting lead poisoning in North Omaha as part of a citywide environmental cleanup focused on the 27-square-miles east of 72nd Street.
A history of the Ernie Chambers Court aka Strehlow Terrace Apartments in North Omaha, Nebraska.
In its first 75 years, North Omaha was home to no fewer than four Jewish synagogues, six Catholic parishes and 50 Protestant congregations. These churches reflected the community’s diversity, including ethnic churches where only Italian, German, Norwegian, Danish and other languages were spoke. Within 25 years of Omaha’s founding, there were also several Black churches in the neighborhood north of downtown. Following is a history of churches in North Omaha.
The Near North Side neighborhood was packed with people for more than a century. People need places to hang out and cool off in Omaha’s hot summers, and in the late 1940s the City of Omaha Parks Department decided to build a swimming pool to serve the community. By this point, the Logan Fontenelle Housing […]
On October 24, 1889, the Omaha Daily World reported that G.S. Kennedy, an African American mechanic who frequented the bar at the Paxton Hotel, was “somewhat indignant” for being charged a higher price than usual because, as the bartender said, he was Black. My review of other articles from early Omaha shows wasn’t Kennedy’s experience wasn’t exception in […]
As far as I’m concerned, the history of Omaha’s Near North Side neighborhood is the richest in all of Omaha. It has been home to working class families, poor people, and the wealthy; northern Europeans, African Americans, and eastern Europeans; Lutherans and Catholics, Jews and Black Muslims; slums, family homes, and mansions; looked like a pioneer town, had country gentleman farms, been a suburb, and had slums; professional offices, warehouses, manufacturing plants, local storefronts, printing presses, training centers, supermarkets and pop-up shops; giant churches and synagogues, and tiny storefront temples and more. So much has happened here, and clearly its story is still being written…
The Jewish people in North Omaha were tied together with the establishment and growth of the community for a century…
This is a biography of Nebraska’s first African American legislator, Dr. Matthew O. Ricketts. He served from 1893 to 1897.
“This town is sick… I’m not speaking of open sores, either — nothing as simple as the ghetto on the ‘Near North Side,’ where all but a handful of 30,000 Omaha Negroes live. No, our sickness is in the bloodstream — in our inner posture. We are an undemocratic city.” – Rev. James T. Stewart, […]
While African Americans have known about police racism for more than a century, white people across the US are beginning to acknowledge the effects of legalized harassment, white privilege, systematic discrimination, the school-to-prison pipeline and other forms of white supremacy that constantly plunder communities and the entire nation of its potential, power and purpose. With a vibrant, vital, and obvious story, Vivian Strong must be remembered today.
Once upon a time, there was a massive public housing project located at the intersection of North 24th and Paul Streets in the Near North Side neighborhood. Originally named the “Northside Village Public Housing Project,” the name was officially changed in honor of the famous Omaha tribe leader Logan Fontenelle.
The history of North Omaha includes redlining starting during the 1920s, and being made illegal in the 1960s. This article explores that history, including the context in which it happened and some of the outcomes.
North Omaha’s Ernie Chambers has been a enlightened, phenomenal and powerful political representative and social leader over the last 40 years. His politics are straight-forward, obvious and spot-on, every single time. He confronts white privilege constantly, challenges injustice regularly and demands respect for the people he serves as a politician. In 2010, Nebraska Educational Television […]
This is a timeline of African American politics in North Omaha, Nebraska, including African American Nebraska State Legislators.
When the Trans-Mississippi Exposition happened in North Omaha in 1898, the city wanted to make sure all visitors knew how easy it was to get to the site. Using some promotional materials from that time, I’ve written a history of streetcars in North Omaha in the 1890s.
The place where I grew up, Omaha’s Miller Park neighborhood, rushes through my imagination a lot. I want to see it acknowledged, appreciated and accentuated every day. This article is my acknowledgment of the past and contribution to the future.
Omaha has many histories that need to be told. Places, people and events that happened over the last 160 years have been forgotten, neglected or repressed, and that’s what I am most interested in. The story of Will Brown is one such story. It represents the ugly, hateful history of this city that has driven […]
One of the most powerful documentaries to ever be made in Omaha is called A Time For Burning. Nominated for an Academy Award for documentary filmmaking in 1966, the film highlights then-barber/future Nebraska legislator Ernie Chambers. A graduate of the Creighton University Law School, he was elected Senator to the Nebraska Legislature in 1970. By […]
One of the places that sparks my imagination greatly is when my varying interests overlap, and that’s why today’s post on BANTU particularly excites me. From the pioneering Civil Rights efforts of Dr. Matthew Ricketts In the 1910s and 1920s, Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was active in Omaha, led by young Malcolm […]
North 24th Street in North Omaha, Nebraska, used to be a regular street of dreams. Home to immigrants and entrepreneurs, it hosted generations of families that made it. Then in the 1960s, several riots struck at the heart of the community. It hasn’t recovered in the 50 years since.
If walls could talk, North Omaha’s schools would be much noisier, much more colorful, and much more complicated than anyone wants to hear. For more than 150 years, schools throughout the community have served students of all ages. With a deep history including segregation and school violence, its can be hard to remember all the positive people and events that emerged in the community’s schools. Following is my ever-growing history of the old schools in North Omaha.
Because of when the riots happened and what they did, there are scars on North O that that haven’t healed almost 50 years later. Here’s a history of what happened.
Omaha Public Schools are re-segregating today. Neighborhoods in Omaha are severely segregated. Throughout the city, black and brown people are routinely followed through stores, disproportionately pulled over by police and much, much more. Following, I detail research findings that show the areas of education, healthcare, economic development and policing demonstrate clear racial segregation throughout Omaha. Racism isn’t […]
I am fascinated by the history of North Omaha, Nebraska. After spending a decade growing up near 24th and Fort, I was infused with the rich history of the community by many of the adults who made my teenage life rich and successful. Stemming from that fascination, I have researched and written more than 200 […]
On October 18, 1891, not thirty years before the lynching of Will Brown, Omahans carried out an even more heinous breach of justice than the lynching of George Smith…