Monday, February 09, 2009

The Civil Rights Era in Omaha

The Reader, an alternative weekly here in Omaha, is running a two-issue series on the local civil rights movement. In the current issue, "Full Freedom Now" focuses on the 4CL, or "the Citizens Coordinating Committee for Civil Liberties." During the early-mid-1960s, the group, led by four clergymen, used non-violent direct action to press for change on a host of issues. Their list of demands for the city council included: the hiring of more black people by the city and schools, the integration of police cruisers, and what would ultimately prove the hardest to achieve — a city ordinance outlawing discrimination in housing. Rev. Kelsey Jones recalled, “Racial problems exist here in a more acute degree than in Cleveland, Detroit, or Baltimore,” Rev. Jones said in a Sun Special article in 1963. “We only think things are worse in those cities because they are out in the open. Here, they are cemented. Take the cap off, as in Mississippi, and it would be the same.” A second article, "We Just Wanted to Swim, Sir," focuses on the successful attempt by the local NAACP Youth Council to desegregate the public swimming pool at Peony Park.

Both are worth taking a look at... yet another reminder that the struggle for racial justice was a national, not a regional, phenomenon.

1 comment:

  1. You might appreciate my North Omaha History Blog, filled with Omaha's Civil Rights history and more, at