I have lived for 75 years. That means I have observed and experienced many cycles of America and its black citizens. Growing up in wonderful, but segregated North Omaha, blacks were poor but comforted by the love within our community for each other, our neighbors, classmates, our community and our family. We were not allowed to go downtown and freely go to the movies, but we had our own, the Ritz Theater. We were not allowed to go to inside, sit and enjoy Joe Tess Fish, so we got take out. We were not allowed to swim in the wonderful pool and recreation area at Peony Park, so what we had Kellom swimming pool, water hoses and sometime fire hydrants. We were not welcome in Benson or Florence or parts west, but we had our beloved near north side. We had our own newspapers, the Omaha Star and the Guide printing the good news about ourselves. We had our own entertainment centers; Allen’s Showcase, the Dreamland and Carnation Ballroom, and the Blue Room. We had Black owned businesses up and down 24th Street: Black owned drug stores with Black pharmacists, the Ritz Cab Company, and Carver Savings and Loan. There were historic churches of all denominations. There were youth development programs: the YMCA, YWCA, Blackburn Center and community and sports programs all over. Logan Fontenelle were beautiful and wonderful public homes with well-kept grounds and playgrounds for kids. The Police were the Klan, figuratively and in some cases literally, I could go on and on. We were discriminated and segregated and disrespected but we were together. We had great culture, great church, great commerce, and great people.
Love, Preston Jr., "National Crisis, Local Crisis" (2016). Black Studies Faculty Publications. 30.
This article was first published on 4urban.org.