Please select from the category links found below Historical Landmarks, Indigenous Nebraskans, Music, Neighborhoods, North or South Omaha.
Minstrel shows were a variety of acts performed to stereotypically down grade the African American culture. You may find this historically funny or you may read this as extremely disgraceful to blacks and disrespectful just as the blacks did. However, what the whites did not know is that by trying to be comedic, all they were doing was shining a bright light in a dangerously dark space. This gave blacks the drive and ambition to showcase their theatrical side and educate those who didn't know the real struggles and truth behind their black culture. Some of the theatrical talent to arise from Omaha’s black community included Lincoln Motion Picture Company, one of the first African-American film companies; the Afro Academy for Dramatic Arts; and Center Stage Theatre, which won both the National and International Amateur Theatre Festivals in 1983.
For more information click here, Dramatic Arts
Music has had a significant impact on people throughout history and provides a soundtrack for their experiences. It has the remarkable ability to enhance history and tell the story of a people. The presence of music in Omaha has continued to help the African American community survive hardships like discrimination and segregation by acting as a source of encouragement and motivation to keep the fight for equal rights alive. It has given comfort when people are in pain and calm in times of stress. The presence of music has also amplified joy in happier times and fed the excitement during times of celebration.
For more information click here, Modern Music
Omaha has a long and proud tradition of black firefighters breaking barriers. In 1895, the first black firefighters were hired. They were very proud of their accomplishments, but they were not treated as equals. Black firefighters had to follow the laws of segregation. They were based at two different fire stations in North Omaha because that is where the black population was at that time. It was difficult for black firefighters to be promoted. This started to change in 1951 due to the use of a Civil Service exam for eligibility among applicants. Some challenges to being promoted continued through the desegregation of the Omaha Fire Department.
For more information click here, Fire Fighters
Sirens, arrests, crime, violence, all lead to one place. These are just a few words that come to mind when one thinks of the police. However, through our research we learned that the Omaha Police Department is very dedicated to keeping the city of Omaha safe. We also discovered that African American police officers are a very large part of the OPD. They often faced struggles such as racial tensions, discrimination, forced residential assignments, and affirmative action.
For more information click here, Police
Violent Civil War has been a reality for many South Sudanese citizens for decades. In the mid 1980's the conflict started to turn, the South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army fought against the Northern Sudanese Army. Southern Sudanese citizens fled to refugee camps to save their lives. Many refugees were eventually resettled in the United States. Omaha, NE eventually became the largest resettlement location in the United States. Refugees came to Omaha in search of a better life. Omaha offers career opportunities, affordable living, and an already established Sudanese community to join. While in Omaha many refugees face challenges adapting to their new lives. Some of these challenges include learning English, finding employment, and developing a new identity in the states. The Southern Sudanese Community Association provides training and education for refugees in Omaha. Since their establishment in 1997 they have served over 1,311 Southern Sudanese families. Many refugees feel that though this journey has been rough it is one that is worth it for the sake of their families. They are hopeful Omaha will someday feel like home.
For more information click here, Sudanese Immigrants
The Tuskegee Airmen were heroes in World War II. They were African American fighter pilots of the 332nd fighter group. 450 Tuskegee Airmen served in Europe during World War II, 68 of whom were killed or went missing in action. The main purpose that they served was to escort the bombers into Germany and back. White bomber pilots requested that the Tuskegee Airman escort them because they had gained a reputation for not losing bombers. The Tuskegee Airmen were trailblazers in integrating the Military. They endured the hate of Jim Crow, inside and outside the military, and inspired the start of the integration of the military by order of President Truman in 1948. The Tuskegee Airmen served with distinction, receiving 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Legion of Merit, a Red Star of Yugoslavia, 8 Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, 14 Bronze Stars, 744 Air Medals, and 3 Presidential Unit Citations. They also earned a long delayed Medal of Honor in 2007. As you can see, the Tuskegee Airmen deserve the respect of all Americans.
For more information click here, Tuskegee Airmen
Visual art is an important avenue for self-expression and always has a story behind it. African American visual arts have long been an important part of the community in North Omaha, murals, statues, and art galleries are all around. Art helps make up the unique identity of the people and community. Our project is bringing African American visual arts in Omaha to the surface so that they are not forgotten as African American art has been in the past.
For more information click here, Visual Arts