Black in Business

 Black in Business

By: H.Ann, A Student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s Service Learning Academy class.

The human rights activist Malcolm X once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”. Standing for North Omaha culture will bring the community together, drive innovation, and promote positive economic growth and benefits. We can do this by supporting North Omaha’s Black-owned businesses. Educating, donating, voting, and being involved in local community events will ensure this success.

An essential foundation of North Omaha’s history is in the businesses that thrived throughout the decades. Since before the Civil War, African Americans in North Omaha have owned, operated, and managed companies. According to Adam Fletcher (History of Businesses Owned By African Americans in Omaha), 1856 marks the year when the first Black-owned barbershop opened on Harney St by Bill Lee. Most businesses owned by African Americans were in the North and Southside of downtown Omaha. During this decade, African Americans owned businesses in blacksmithing, pool halls, shoemakers, and dressmakers. The 1870s brought lawyers, doctors, and entrepreneurs to transpire out of North Omaha. Dr. Matthew Rickettes was Omaha’s first African American doctor who was also the first African American graduate with higher education. Omaha’s first African American Woman-owned law firm opened in 1950 by the impressive judge Elizabeth Pittman whose advocacy for the North Omaha community was unparalleled. Lincoln Motion Picture Company was started in North Omaha in 1915 by brothers named Noble and George Johnson. They made films that disproved negative stereotypes of African Americans.

 Still present this day is the Urban League of Nebraska (Urban League of Nebraska). The organization was initially named the Omaha Urban League in 1940 and fought for Black jobs in Omaha and supported Black-owned businesses. The Urban League is still serving the Black community today by empowering and educating. Many may know that the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation (Malcolm X Memorial Foundation) is also a Black-owned foundation by Mrs. Rowena Moore in 1971. She opened the foundation to honor Malcolm X for he’s an articulate spokesperson for human rights and to build an educational and cultural organization.  She had a significant impact in the North Omaha community as a civic activist and the first African American woman who ran for Omaha City Council. 

Supporting North Omaha businesses is essential for new opportunities to invigorate the North Omaha culture. You can do your part in supporting North Omaha businesses by donating, voting, or funding your favorite Black-owned businesses. Some of my favorite local Black-owned businesses are Best Burger (Best Burger), the one you can see from interstate 480, Mixins Rolled Ice Creme (Mixins), and Smoking Jay’s BBQ (Smoking Jay’s BBQ). These are just a few compared to the 120+ local black-owned businesses listed on The Dodge Voice (NPDodge). Juneteenth is a vital holiday to celebrate, and where else better to than at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation (Malcolm X Memorial Foundation). This year in 2021, Freedomtainment  (Freedomtainment) will educate, empower, and entertain at the Omaha Freedom Festival (Omaha Freedom Festival). Support North Omaha culture and Black-owned businesses with us on Saturday, June 19th, 2021, in celebration of Juneteenth! Stand for the North Omaha culture!