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Civil rights movement in omaha, nebraska

The meaning of «civil rights movement in omaha, nebraska»

The civil rights movement in Omaha, Nebraska, has roots that extend back until at least 1912. With a history of racial tension that starts before the founding of the city, Omaha has been the home of numerous overt efforts related to securing civil rights for African Americans since at least the 1920s.

Prior to the formal founding of the civil rights movement in Omaha, several African Americans secured status that was relevant to later struggles. While the civil rights movement proper did not begin until the 1940s, the historical significance of Omaha in securing civil rights for a variety of American people could be said to start in 1876.

That year stands out in the civil rights movement as Omaha became the location of the pivotal 1876 trial of Standing Bear v. Crook. In that trial a U.S. district court judge at Fort Omaha set U.S. legal precedent by recognising the personhood of Native Americans, thereby granting American Indians the rights of citizens. With Standing Bear, a Ponca chief on trial, local journalist Thomas Tibbles, Omaha Susette LaFlesche and General Crook himself testified on behalf of acknowledging Native American rights. For the first time, a U.S. court had ruled that an Indian was, officially, a person. Standing Bear won the case, securing the right of his tribe to leave their Indian Territory reservation and return to their Nebraska homelands.[1]

The first record of community violence against blacks in Omaha occurred in 1891, when an African American man called Joe Coe was lynched by a vigilante mob for allegedly raping a white girl.[1] Another lynching occurred in 1919 when a white mob stormed the Douglas County Courthouse to take Willy Brown, an African American accused of raping a young white woman. While these incidents terrified the population of African Americans in the community and effectively segregated them from the rest of the city,[2] the civil rights movement in Omaha did not gain large-scale momentum until the 1920s.[3]

With early 20th century growth in the number of African American migrants recruited by the meatpacking industry, the population doubled from 1910 to 1920. Some groups in the city resisted such changes. Some public places discriminated against African Americans, although segregation was not legal. Up to the 1940s and 1950s, many of the city's restaurants were effectively segregated, with signs that stated, "We Don't Serve Any Colored Race."[4]

An early organized effort for civil rights in Omaha was the creation of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1912, Episcopal minister, Father John Albert Williams playing the role of first president.[5] At the national level, leadership and membership were integrated. The chapter has continued.[6]

Other civil rights organizations soon formed in Omaha, part of the early 20th century spirit of reform that generated many progressive groups. In 1917, George Wells Parker founded the Hamitic League of the World in Omaha. In 1918 the League published his pamphlet Children of the Sun. The Hamitic League was committed to black nationalism. Based in New York, Cyril Briggs became editor of their journal, The Crusader. It later became the journal of the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB).

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