A Time for Justice: Omaha's Struggle for Civil Rights
Research compiled by: Justin H, Amilkar R, & Ronnie T.
It took the entire community to fight for Civil Rights and they are still fighting today. In this mural, Blacks celebrate stopping segregation and redlining, as well as gaining the right to vote while they continue to march along the path toward equality.
The Urban League was founded in 1910 to help Blacks from the South work and live in urban areas. The Omaha chapter was founded in 1927. Since that year, the Omaha Urban League has been influencing an entire city. Examples of its outstanding work includes marching against segregation, redlining, and police brutality, as well as meeting to help find African Americans well paying jobs. At its height, chapter president Whitney Young was able to triple its membership. Its goal today is to help African Americans and people of all races become economically independent. (Photo courtesy of the Douglas County Historical Society)
At first glance Spencer’s Barbershop may seem like an average building in an average town, however this place has lived through and created much of Omaha’s history. The Barbershop is the location where a 29-year old barber named Ernie Chambers first gained national attention. The shop was the site of an Academy-Award nominated documentary “A Time For Burning,” featuring the future state senator. Spencer’s Barbershop still remains a place where people gather to discuss culture, family and society.
The struggle for racial justice was not unique to North Omaha. Throughout the nation Blacks were fighting for equal rights. As part of this broader movement, civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP), Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Urban League, and Black Panthers all founded chapters in North Omaha. While they had many goals, some of their most important were increasing Black political representation, demanding fair and open housing, pushing for more jobs with equal pay, fighting police brutality, pressing for integrated and more historically accurate education, rallying support for the wrongly accused, and putting an end to the city’s practice of de facto segregation.
Douglas County Historical Society.
A Street of Dreams. Nebraska ETV Network, 1992. Videocassette.
A Time for Burning. Bill Jersey & Barbara Connell (Dir.) 1967. DVD.
Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska: A guide to the Cornhusker state. Nebraska State Historical Society.
Lesson plan lead-in text. North Omaha has a long, complex history of Civil Rights that remains largely unnoticed.
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