On Monday Sept. 30, the African American history class and their teacher Mr. David Anderson attended a symposium at the Douglas County Courthouse. It commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of Will Brown. On Sept. 28, 1919, Brown was lynched by an angry mob outside the Omaha courthouse after being falsely accused of rape. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, there were several race riots in Omaha and other major cities across the nation that summer, now referred to as the Red Summer of 1919.
The symposium was held to review the events of that day and their lasting impact. Some of the speakers included Dr. Cynthia Robinson, department chair of Black Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), a representative of the Omaha chapter of the NAACP, Douglas County Board member Jim Cavanaugh and state senator Ernie Chambers.
“It was really interesting and informative, because they talked about a lot of different topics in today’s world, like police brutality and compared it to how it was when he [Brown] was lynched,” senior Cori Davis said. “I was glad that I was able to go, because I thought it was different. This [field trip] was about a lynching that happened here. We all could connect to what they were saying,” Davis said.
Omaha’s dark past isn’t always taught or talked about, which made this event even more important according to junior Kori Bullard. “People are forgetting about it [the race riots]. People need to know that it did happen and that’s still relevant,” Bullard said.
It’s the first year for African American history to be offered in the curriculum, and it seems to be a success from the student perspective. “I love this class. It’s my favorite class. To be able to learn about my history in a school setting is a big step for diversity,” Bullard said. “African American history has been a success this year. You can definitely tell that Mr. Anderson is putting in a lot of effort to make others interested in this class while also allowing us to voice our opinions,” Bullard said. The semester-long course will be offered again in the fall of 2020.