The content is from Omaha World Herald
As a native of Omaha with years of accumulated wisdom as to the plight of my beloved race, I have a responsibility to speak up during these tumultuous times. I do not have the right, however, to speak for my community. I am observing a tremendous surge of activism and conversation among black Omahans, from our elected officials and organizational leaders to our lay leaders and, most importantly, our young leaders.
Those conversations are intersectional, intergenerational and healthy. The next generation is demanding to take the lead. I am impressed and take my place as an elder, not as a spokesman, available for counsel.
I, too, know and believe that Black Lives Matter. We jointly demand radical criminal justice change and new policing practices and policies, for we are in complete solidarity with specific recommendations emerging.
Today, I want to focus on another aspect of transformational change: strategic investment in our communities of color.
North Omaha for decades was a segregated, redlined and intentionally economically deprived black section of the city. Blacks migrated north from the Deep South to escape overt racism and to find work opportunities.
Omaha’s expansive meatpacking houses provided work, to the ire and hate of whites who wanted all the jobs. We were villainized, neglected, even lynched and murdered. We were underemployed and lacked financial resources. We were redlined — physically, financially, geographically and psychologically.
The Greater Omaha community adopted the narrative that blacks were inferior. As time passed, we were repeatedly reminded of our appointed station by banks, Realtors, employers, public school systems and teachers. “Stay in your place” was the term used by all.
Yet, we had a secret weapon. We had strong and influential clergy, a rich culture, a determined resolve, segregated brilliant black educators, vibrant commerce and stable family structures. The World-Herald book “24th and Glory,” published last year, chronicles North Omaha’s unbelievable and incredible reservoir of talent that emerged from the mid-20th century.