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Spotlighting Omaha's role in civil rights movement

Spotlighting Omaha's role in civil rights movement

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

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Years before the Montgomery bus boycott that followed Rosa Parks' arrest, a similar boycott took place in north Omaha, spurred by a refusal by the local bus company to hire black drivers.

The Omaha bus boycott of 1952 through '54 is evidence that the fight for civil rights associated with Southern cities also took place in urban centers in the north, says Patrick D. Jones.

Jones, an associate professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, See Civil rights: Page 2 • will tell the story of the Omaha boycott and othermoments in the city's civil rights history during a lecture Thursday at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln.

FREEDOM NORTH: UNCOVERING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN OMAHA

What: Lecture by UNL assistant professor Patrick D. Jones

Where: Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln

When: Thursday, noon to 1 p.m.

"When a lot of people think about the civil rights movement, they immediately and exclusively think about the American South," Jones said. Because of that, he said, researching civil rights and black power movements in the urban north has been a big part of his work.

Jones said he's not trying to tell a comprehensive story. Instead, he plans to highlight moments across several years that show how the civil rights movement took root in Omaha, and how it differed from the movement in the South.

Another goal of the lecture, he said, is to use these stories to help people understand the background of racial problems today, like housing. Jones said people in theMidwest distance themselves from those problems and conversations around the civil rights movement when they think it happened only in the South.

"We often don't like to confront it here," Jones said. "I hope people come and learn it's more than a Southern phenomenon and also that there's a rich history in Nebraska."

Jones said his lecture is built on artifacts obtained from the Great Plains Black History Museum. They tell stories from the '50s to the '70s, and he said he wants to give people a glimpse at the broad civil rights movement in Omaha.

"It's an important history, a rich history, a hidden history," Jones said. nikoel.hytrek@owh.com, 402-444-1304

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