Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. William C. Pratt
Blacks in Omaha developed new approaches to fight Jim Crow practices in the post-World War II era. As a result, substantial gains were made in the areas of public accommodations, employment, residential segregation and education. The Omaha Star, a black newspaper, was instrumental in reporting civil rights abuses to its readers, while constantly urging them to unite and fight for their rights. Civil rights organizations played a crucial role in these efforts. The NAACP chapter was established as early as 1918, but after an initial burst it was relatively ineffective until the 1950s. The local Urban League, however, which dated to 1928, adapted more readily to the changing post-World War II environment. Realizing the need to shift from its earlier emphasis on self-help and recreation, it began to address problems such as employment, housing, and race relations. In 1950, Whitney Young became its executive secretary and played a major role in the fight against racial discrimination over the next several years. Another important organization in this struggle was the Omaha De Porres Club. It was organized in 1947 on the Creighton University campus under the direction of a priest, Father John Markoe, and a student, Denny Holland. The Club was instrumental in opening many doors for black Omahans, particularly in the area of employment. Working closely with the Urban League, its non-violent and direct confrontational tactics such as sit-ins, picketing, and boycotts made a significant contribution to the local civil rights movement. In 1956, a special election was held to choose the members of a Charter Convention that would draw up a new city Charter, which was became effective on May 27, 1957. It included a civil rights clause, a provision for fair employment, and the establishment of a Human Relations Board. Although there was much more to be done, the 1945-1956 era was marked by a number o f important achievements in the realm of race relations in Omaha, some of which occurred years ahead of many other cities.
Davis, Kathleen Mary, "Fighting Jim Crow in post-World War II Omaha 1945-1956" (2002). Student Work. 570.
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