Truth and Reconciliation Process in Lincoln, Neb.
Paul Olson (Professor Emeritus, UNL), Kathleen Rutledge (retired editor, Lincoln Journal Star), Margaret Jacobs (Professor, UNL), Dewayne Mays (President of the Lincoln Branch of the NAACP), Kevin Abourezk (Lincoln Indian Center)
The panel will describe what presenters believe to be a somewhat effective beginning to a "truth and reconciliation project" that began in Nebraska in 2015, one exploring what the history of racism directed against several groups has been in the state and the possible institutional remedies that would work toward reconciliation. (Moderator: Paul Olson)
Part of the Reckoning & Reconciliation on the Great Plains summit.
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[00:00:06.353]I'm Paul Olson, the moderator.
[00:00:09.950]I was the founding director of the Great Plains Center
[00:00:13.260]and the topic this afternoon is Truth and Reconciliation
[00:00:18.140]in Lincoln and Nebraska, An Experimental Process.
[00:00:22.630]I don't have a special land statement to read.
[00:00:27.300]I just wanted to tell you how one vulnerable
[00:00:32.350]Native American man felt about the land,
[00:00:34.870]and this was Richard Fooble who was the last survivor
[00:00:39.410]of Wounded Knee and he was 95 years old
[00:00:42.290]and he was kind of a friend of mine.
[00:00:44.070]And he was sitting in my living room
[00:00:46.640]and we conversation sort of stopped for a minute,
[00:00:50.210]he came to his alertness and pounded his cane on the floor
[00:00:56.300]and said, "Otto Missouri land."
[00:01:00.180]And I'll never forget that,
[00:01:02.050]that will never be silent in my sensibility.
[00:01:08.300]This presentation is a kind of footnote
[00:01:11.250]to the presentation by Walter Echo-Hawk last night.
[00:01:17.390]And I should say that the process that we'll be describing
[00:01:22.080]began around 2015 when Dewayne Mays and I got together,
[00:01:28.540]we were acquaintances.
[00:01:30.750]I wouldn't say we were close friends,
[00:01:32.440]but we were acquaintances
[00:01:33.737]and we knew that both our organizations were interested
[00:01:36.610]in doing something about racism
[00:01:39.970]in Nebraska and internationally.
[00:01:43.100]And we decided that we would have a Nelson Mandela Picnic.
[00:01:52.450]We would have that once a year.
[00:01:57.130]And we chose the hottest part of the summer
[00:01:59.120]when picnics are somewhat welcome
[00:02:01.730]and people don't have much else on their schedules.
[00:02:05.140]And we chose the park near the Mulloon Center
[00:02:13.130]or Antelope Park and here you see some pictures
[00:02:16.235]of some of the Mandela Picnics with people relaxing,
[00:02:21.020]going to the line for barbecue and potluck.
[00:02:23.860]We did this because we thought that people
[00:02:25.620]ought to get to know each other
[00:02:27.210]before we tried to move in a direction.
[00:02:30.930]At some of the sessions,
[00:02:32.520]we had talk about what Nelson Mandela had done
[00:02:38.400]as a peacemaker and as a opponent of racial oppression.
[00:02:45.280]In some of them, we talked about what we could do
[00:02:50.870]in the way of supporting local cultures
[00:02:55.735]and local indigenous people.
[00:02:58.560]And eventually we came to have more and more presentations
[00:03:04.480]that focused on education as a fundamental issue.
[00:03:08.220]So in 2019, we decided to begin a truth
[00:03:13.440]in education process,
[00:03:16.130]speaking to education to its reform
[00:03:18.490]because we were interested in a truth and education process.
[00:03:21.880]We had to begin with truth first.
[00:03:24.480]And so in the last few years since 2019,
[00:03:27.550]we've been trying to gain access
[00:03:31.130]to the quarters of education so that they will listen to us
[00:03:34.560]about reform in the teaching staffs
[00:03:37.010]and curriculum reform and the like,
[00:03:39.320]but we've also been working on a scholarly project.
[00:03:43.560]There's no history so far as we can find.
[00:03:45.570]There's no history of race and racism in Nebraska,
[00:03:49.030]of racial oppression and of resistance
[00:03:55.350]so we founded the Roots of Justice project,
[00:03:57.710]and that's what we're gonna be primarily focusing on
[00:04:00.640]although we have some other things that we'll mention.
[00:04:04.140]The speakers who will follow,
[00:04:05.760]and I will introduce them individually after I finish
[00:04:09.250]what I say are Kathleen Rutledge,
[00:04:11.480]who give a history of the project from 2019,
[00:04:15.080]when the Roots of Justice project began,
[00:04:19.250]Margaret Jacobs who's done some research
[00:04:21.470]on what are effective truth and reconciliation projects.
[00:04:25.760]And we wanna take a look at that in our discussion,
[00:04:29.450]and in our discussion with the audience
[00:04:32.370]as to what makes for a good truth and reconciliation project
[00:04:35.697]and are we on the right track.
[00:04:38.010]Dewayne Mays will be talking about the leadership,
[00:04:41.050]the project he's been the chief convener of our meetings.
[00:04:44.760]He's a retired soil scientist and retired army major.
[00:04:52.030]He told me the other day that he was born a major
[00:04:54.610]and I believe that.
[00:04:56.971]And the last person will be speaking is Kevin Abourezk
[00:05:00.260]who's been in introduce at length
[00:05:02.690]and who's the chief editor and the coordinator.
[00:05:05.870]We have a series of people who are doing the research
[00:05:08.480]in writing so that we can begin to represent this truth,
[00:05:11.657]the truth of our history to school children
[00:05:15.240]and civic groups and churches
[00:05:17.130]to the citizenry of Nebraska at large.
[00:05:19.900]And so right now, I'll turn it over to Kathleen Rutledge
[00:05:23.640]and then after that, it'll be Margaret Jacobs,
[00:05:26.200]Dewayne Mays, and Kevin Abourezk.
[00:05:28.580]We hope that we have about 25 minutes,
[00:05:34.040]20 minutes for discussion with the group.
[00:05:37.440]So it's yours, Kathleen.
[00:05:41.152]I really wanna thank the Center for Great Plains Studies
[00:05:44.360]for this summit, which I've attended several sessions so far
[00:05:48.640]and they've been excellent.
[00:05:50.490]And I really appreciate the opportunity to talk
[00:05:52.600]about the basics of this history that we're undertaking.
[00:05:58.930]But I wanna start with how I...
[00:06:04.730]One of the things that sort of stimulated me
[00:06:07.240]to be interested in this project.
[00:06:10.480]I'm a retired newspaper editor
[00:06:12.420]and you probably all have heard the line
[00:06:15.960]about newspapers being the first draft of history.
[00:06:19.330]And I am aware and have become increasingly aware
[00:06:24.150]of how my own newspapers draft of local history
[00:06:28.080]contained significant and painful gaps.
[00:06:32.310]I had the privilege of knowing the late Lela Shanks,
[00:06:37.608]who participated in the Civil Rights Movement
[00:06:39.820]and was active in many other ways.
[00:06:42.530]And she undertook a study of the evolving image
[00:06:47.110]of African Americans in the Nebraska press
[00:06:49.930]for the last 50 years of the previous century.
[00:06:54.260]And she did this the hard way by going through microfiche
[00:06:58.090]at the historical society and other places.
[00:07:00.790]And here's what she found, that history,
[00:07:03.557]and this is just the articles that she reviewed
[00:07:07.320]in my newspaper, The Journal Star.
[00:07:10.640]30% history, 19% civil rights,
[00:07:14.940]and then it drops off significantly.
[00:07:17.620]And so you see that very important elements,
[00:07:21.500]health, justice, youth, family,
[00:07:24.700]church were very, very lightly represented over the years.
[00:07:30.250]And you know, if you look at the totals,
[00:07:33.750]that's 16 articles about income and employment
[00:07:38.980]over 50 years.
[00:07:40.350]So here's what Lela wrote when she presented this
[00:07:45.730]at a conference on the history
[00:07:47.200]of African Americans in Nebraska,
[00:07:49.960]in almost every story in both the Omaha World-Herald
[00:07:53.780]and The Lincoln Journal Star
[00:07:55.700]so-called race and/or problems was the central theme.
[00:08:00.650]Stories were written about African Americans
[00:08:02.870]as if they did not live as individuals, as people,
[00:08:06.860]as mothers and fathers, wives and husbands,
[00:08:10.330]daughters and sons,
[00:08:12.160]but rather as one big indistinguishable mass.
[00:08:15.970]Many of the articles were about "The Negro"
[00:08:20.250]as if one was writing about a different species,
[00:08:23.720]despite DNA evidence which says
[00:08:25.980]that there is less than 1% difference
[00:08:28.670]between any two human beings anywhere on earth.
[00:08:32.490]And she also observed that what she found
[00:08:36.580]was what she referred to as "deeply embed white racism"
[00:08:41.460]still existing consciously and unconsciously
[00:08:45.610]in every institution in both cities,
[00:08:48.260]meaning Lincoln and Omaha, and throughout American society.
[00:08:52.900]So fast forwarding a few years,
[00:08:55.850]I heard about this idea to assemble
[00:08:58.790]a local history of people of color in Nebraska.
[00:09:03.370]And I was quite glad to be invited to join the effort.
[00:09:07.430]Now I'm just gonna run over the basics
[00:09:09.340]and turn it over to other speakers.
[00:09:13.250]Our title is Roots of Justice: Historical Truth
[00:09:17.150]and Reconciliation in Lincoln and Nebraska.
[00:09:20.290]And it is about creating an accurate and truthful history
[00:09:25.300]of race and racism, both in Lincoln and across the state.
[00:09:30.290]The leaders are the Lincoln chapters of the NAACP
[00:09:33.820]and Nebraskans for Peace.
[00:09:35.890]And we strongly believe that it's not been a part
[00:09:38.920]of the education of most Nebraskans and should be,
[00:09:42.550]that was a point certainly reinforced last night
[00:09:45.110]if you were listening to Walter Echo-Hawk's answer
[00:09:49.520]to a good question.
[00:09:51.530]Our audience is teachers, students,
[00:09:58.210]librarians, civic groups, local history societies.
[00:10:03.660]And it's all of us.
[00:10:06.380]Some people have heard about this and they've thought,
[00:10:08.057]"Oh, this is a history for people of color."
[00:10:10.750]No, it's for all of us.
[00:10:12.510]These are the five groups we're focusing on.
[00:10:14.600]They're broad groups.
[00:10:15.780]We're gonna do the best we can.
[00:10:17.240]It's a lot to cover.
[00:10:19.580]Native Americans, African Americans,
[00:10:21.820]Latinos, Asian Americans,
[00:10:24.420]and refugees since the end of the Vietnam War.
[00:10:29.950]And then this process is guided by a full switch
[00:10:35.090]to the next slide,
[00:10:37.150]a steering committee that is chaired by Mr. Mays,
[00:10:41.940]or Dr. Mays, whom you'll hear from later.
[00:10:44.630]And these are other members of the group.
[00:10:48.910]Many of them, Dr. Jeannette Eileen Jones
[00:10:51.880]is a history professor
[00:10:54.030]at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:10:56.610]Dr. Gregory Rutledge is in English at the university,
[00:11:01.420]and both of them are in the Ethnic Studies Institute.
[00:11:06.550]We're proud to have Takako Olson,
[00:11:08.940]who is the head of curriculum at Lincoln Public Schools.
[00:11:13.450]Dr. Marty Ramirez is a retired counseling psychologist.
[00:11:17.700]Colette Yellow Robe recently joined us.
[00:11:21.070]Kevin Abourezk had been with us originally.
[00:11:24.790]And now that he's moved over to the editorship,
[00:11:27.510]Colette Yellow Robe who is an education specialist at UNL
[00:11:32.850]has joined us.
[00:11:34.530]And then you see Paul here on the screen and Dewayne Mays,
[00:11:38.780]Bill Arfmann is with Nebraskans for Peace.
[00:11:41.770]And Kathleen Johnson is with both the organizations
[00:11:46.420]that have led this.
[00:11:48.240]Okay, the first thing we did was to hire a graduate student
[00:11:53.840]in history at UNL, Veronica Duran.
[00:11:56.870]And well, she spent months putting together a bibliography,
[00:12:03.340]a preliminary bibliography
[00:12:05.260]for the use of the researchers and writers.
[00:12:07.880]It is now posted publicly
[00:12:09.560]and you'll see the link there on the screen.
[00:12:12.140]Digital Commons is a repository that UNL has created.
[00:12:18.760]And the quote you see on the screen
[00:12:22.590]is taken from the introduction to that bibliography.
[00:12:27.110]It points out the fragmentary nature,
[00:12:29.790]although there are lots of sources,
[00:12:31.600]it's not been hold together.
[00:12:34.210]And we envision that filling in the picture
[00:12:36.300]will allow us to understand what people have suffered
[00:12:39.720]and what will constitute proper reconciliatory measures.
[00:12:45.960]Our next slide shows the writers we have so far.
[00:12:50.500]Ultimately we'll have five sections,
[00:12:52.550]and we are in the midst of gathering our resources
[00:12:56.340]and finding writers for the Asian American
[00:13:01.370]and refugee sections.
[00:13:02.750]But we are pleased to have these three men on board
[00:13:07.620]as mentioned, Kevin Abourezk is the project editor.
[00:13:11.620]He will also write the native section.
[00:13:15.000]Preston Love Jr. is an adjunct professor of Black Studies
[00:13:20.960]at the University of Nebraska at Omaha,
[00:13:23.540]and has a number of other roles
[00:13:26.970]almost too numerous to mention,
[00:13:28.530]but a very connected and accomplished man
[00:13:32.180]who's familiar with the Omaha community.
[00:13:34.690]And then Dr. Ness Sandoval is a sociology professor
[00:13:39.550]at St. Louis University, but with deep Nebraska roots,
[00:13:44.180]and he has agreed to take on the Latino section.
[00:13:47.600]Finally, just to briefly indicate what's next,
[00:13:51.480]I've already mentioned,
[00:13:52.390]we need to hire a couple more writers
[00:13:54.390]and some research assistance.
[00:13:57.080]We've been raising money and we just got some good news
[00:14:01.570]about a grant from the White's foundation in Omaha
[00:14:05.360]that will really help us with getting this first phase
[00:14:09.810]of getting the narrative created.
[00:14:13.580]We hope to host community meetings
[00:14:16.160]possibly with partners helping us to sponsor these,
[00:14:19.360]to both promote the project and gather information,
[00:14:24.330]have talks, conversations.
[00:14:26.490]Ultimately, we want this to be a digital archive,
[00:14:29.810]and we have been consulting with Andrew Jewell
[00:14:33.810]at the Center for Digital Research and the Humanities
[00:14:37.150]at UNL who has agreed to help us as we go along
[00:14:42.210]to put together that archive and get it up
[00:14:45.430]and available to the public.
[00:14:47.360]And then the work really begins,
[00:14:49.950]which is to encourage the incorporation of this history
[00:14:55.130]in many ways, as many ways as we can,
[00:14:58.070]and to welcome ideas for reconciliation.
[00:15:03.020]So those are the basics.
[00:15:12.750]I'm next, and if Kevin will help me out a little bit
[00:15:18.600]with some slides here.
[00:15:22.770]So just to give you some background.
[00:15:26.010]In 2018, I was extremely fortunate to receive
[00:15:29.850]a two-year fellowship for a project
[00:15:33.810]that I started called does the United States
[00:15:36.300]need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
[00:15:39.130]So as part of that project,
[00:15:40.890]I did a lot of research about Truth
[00:15:44.540]and Reconciliation Commissions worldwide.
[00:15:48.090]I focused most of my research on South Africa
[00:15:51.130]and I had planned a trip, I never made it,
[00:15:54.970]but so most of my knowledge about South Africa
[00:15:57.790]comes entirely from reading,
[00:15:59.870]but then I also was able to travel
[00:16:01.760]to places I'd already done some research
[00:16:03.930]but I was able to really extend that research
[00:16:05.810]into Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
[00:16:09.140]And there, I was able to do a lot of interviews with people
[00:16:11.840]who've been involved in truth and reconciliation processes
[00:16:14.700]and find out more from them about the limitations
[00:16:18.650]of that process, the progress that they made,
[00:16:23.080]what they saw as the value or not of this process.
[00:16:28.170]And so then Paul Olson contacted me,
[00:16:31.460]I guess he found out that I was working on this
[00:16:33.610]and he asked me if I would create some sort of
[00:16:36.840]one to two page document about this
[00:16:40.090]and that's a really hard ask for a historian
[00:16:43.450]who you know, a very verbose historian
[00:16:46.670]who spends her life writing really long books,
[00:16:49.310]but it was such a great exercise for me early on
[00:16:52.110]in my research to have to do that
[00:16:55.120]because it helped me distill down what I had been learning.
[00:16:59.720]So a couple of the things I'll just share with you
[00:17:02.840]from this research,
[00:17:04.980]first, I mean, truth and reconciliation
[00:17:08.010]didn't really become a term that we use
[00:17:10.070]until the late 20th century.
[00:17:12.370]And it's really part of a global movement
[00:17:16.610]that started after World War II
[00:17:18.410]to try to come to grips with the Holocaust,
[00:17:21.850]and then with all the many other atrocities
[00:17:25.840]that followed the Holocaust.
[00:17:27.950]And it's part of a process,
[00:17:31.480]a larger process called restorative justice.
[00:17:34.770]And it's restorative justice is different
[00:17:37.410]from other types of justice systems.
[00:17:41.570]Most of the time we think of justice
[00:17:43.660]in terms of individual victims going to court
[00:17:47.770]to try to gain some form of justice.
[00:17:50.990]But when there has been a widespread human rights abuse
[00:17:56.780]against a group of people, collectively such as genocide,
[00:18:02.830]it's difficult to prosecute all those involved in that
[00:18:07.380]and to bring justice to all those
[00:18:09.390]who've been victimized by it.
[00:18:11.720]So the world community came up with a way
[00:18:17.260]to try to resolve some of this
[00:18:19.070]through Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.
[00:18:23.000]And sometimes these were done fairly soon
[00:18:27.330]after the fact, for example the truth
[00:18:29.330]for the Nuremberg trials after World War II
[00:18:32.210]are an example, although they didn't call them
[00:18:34.120]truth and reconciliation then.
[00:18:36.580]But other times they come about often decades
[00:18:41.250]or even a century or more after some of the atrocities
[00:18:45.800]have been committed.
[00:18:46.633]And sometimes these atrocities are long standing,
[00:18:49.300]ongoing abuses such as those suffered by indigenous peoples.
[00:18:54.860]And one of the key parts of truth and reconciliation's
[00:18:58.920]efforts is to try to correct historical narratives
[00:19:01.850]that have often left these out.
[00:19:04.900]So if you wanna go to the next slide Kevin.
[00:19:08.400]So there's a lot of different kinds
[00:19:10.180]of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions,
[00:19:12.130]probably the most well known are those that deal
[00:19:14.490]with regime change.
[00:19:17.403]And they were very popular in Latin America
[00:19:20.740]following the fall of some dictatorships.
[00:19:24.500]For example, Argentina, Peru,
[00:19:27.050]probably the most famous Truth and Reconciliation Commission
[00:19:31.030]occurred in South Africa after the fall
[00:19:33.230]of the Apartheid regime.
[00:19:36.260]I learned a great deal about that.
[00:19:37.770]It was a fascinating process to think about
[00:19:41.140]what had and had not worked there.
[00:19:44.320]For me personally,
[00:19:45.310]the types of truth and reconciliation efforts
[00:19:47.870]that I'm most interested in are those dealing
[00:19:50.670]with the histories of settler colonialism.
[00:19:53.670]And what I mean by that is histories of nations
[00:19:56.960]like the United States, Canada, Australia,
[00:19:59.710]New Zealand, South Africa too,
[00:20:02.500]in which Europeans come there
[00:20:06.000]and displace native indigenous peoples,
[00:20:11.090]dispossessed them of their lands.
[00:20:13.440]In the case of Canada, New Zealand, Australia,
[00:20:15.670]United States, I mean, indigenous peoples were left
[00:20:18.630]with less than often 2% of the land
[00:20:21.070]that they had once owned or had in their possession.
[00:20:27.150]And so I've been really interested in particular
[00:20:29.950]in how these nations have come to grips with these histories
[00:20:34.680]in which settlers come, take land,
[00:20:36.960]and sort of demographically overwhelm
[00:20:39.970]the indigenous population.
[00:20:42.030]So I've just put up a couple of examples from New Zealand,
[00:20:45.910]Canada and Australia have had very robust
[00:20:51.090]truth and reconciliation efforts.
[00:20:54.250]Next slide, Kevin.
[00:20:57.910]One thing I learned and this is from a man
[00:21:00.140]in Australia named Mick Dodson.
[00:21:02.610]Mick Dodson was one of the co-chairs
[00:21:06.200]of the Stolen Generations Inquiry.
[00:21:09.170]He's an indigenous man and he's a lawyer.
[00:21:15.480]You could think of him kind of
[00:21:16.730]as the Walter Echo-Hawk counterpart in Australia.
[00:21:20.420]Extremely highly esteemed, extremely knowledgeable.
[00:21:25.800]And when I met with him to ask more about his work,
[00:21:29.330]he told me that they followed the van Boven Principles
[00:21:33.680]and I didn't wanna appear ignorant so I sort of nodded
[00:21:38.620]like I knew what the van Boven Principles were,
[00:21:40.970]but then I later looked them up
[00:21:42.540]and they're now called the Van Boven/ Bassiouni Principles.
[00:21:47.690]They were by two international juries
[00:21:51.777]in the International Criminal Court.
[00:21:54.220]And their task, what they wanted to figure out
[00:21:56.890]is what would bring justice to people
[00:22:00.480]who had suffered gross human rights abuses.
[00:22:03.150]And they came up with these five areas,
[00:22:06.330]restitution, which really kind of only,
[00:22:11.047]almost impossible unless it's done right after the fact.
[00:22:14.750]It's restoring two victims their properties
[00:22:19.530]that have been taken or getting them back.
[00:22:23.850]For example, Ukrainian refugees,
[00:22:26.050]restitution would be returning them to their lands
[00:22:28.720]and then repairing all the damage to their cities.
[00:22:33.160]Another one was compensation.
[00:22:34.970]So in cases where restitution is not possible,
[00:22:37.590]there's attempt to compensate people
[00:22:41.950]for what they have suffered.
[00:22:44.250]Rehabilitation, often this is in the form
[00:22:47.440]of like government social services.
[00:22:50.700]Satisfaction, this is a really big category.
[00:22:55.330]It included an opportunity for victims to tell their stories
[00:23:00.310]or survivors, I should say,
[00:23:01.510]to tell their stories and tell people
[00:23:03.810]what they'd experienced.
[00:23:05.310]It includes apologies.
[00:23:07.370]It includes commemoration and memorialization.
[00:23:10.840]And then the final one was guarantees of non-repetition.
[00:23:15.000]And I thought these were really interesting.
[00:23:18.270]And in my subsequent research on this,
[00:23:21.260]I found that sometimes,
[00:23:22.710]for indigenous peoples, these aren't always enough.
[00:23:26.250]There's more to it than these five components.
[00:23:30.590]And these were developed by juries
[00:23:32.020]who were thinking really about some situations
[00:23:35.300]like the Rwandan genocide or what happened in Bosnia.
[00:23:39.390]They weren't always thinking of what has happened
[00:23:42.010]to indigenous peoples, for example,
[00:23:43.880]over the course of many centuries.
[00:23:46.680]So, next slide.
[00:23:50.720]So a couple things that I learned along my own journey
[00:23:54.460]of studying this, and I do, I just wrote a book about this
[00:23:58.790]that's really much more of local.
[00:24:00.690]It's much more about what's happened in Nebraska
[00:24:03.630]and where I grew up in Colorado.
[00:24:07.000]But one thing I found from interviews
[00:24:10.283]is that the most effective truth and reconciliation efforts
[00:24:14.630]are those that deal with very specific abuses.
[00:24:17.740]So for example in New Zealand,
[00:24:20.450]rather than having some big blanket apology
[00:24:23.880]or big blanket set of reparation for all the Maori people,
[00:24:29.550]they have had many different efforts
[00:24:32.580]that are very localized for particular groups
[00:24:35.360]or what they call ewes.
[00:24:41.670]These have been more meaningful, I think,
[00:24:44.820]for example, the Maori in this case,
[00:24:47.020]than these big blanket apologies.
[00:24:51.600]I think the second point here is that these efforts
[00:24:55.260]must be led by those who've suffered these abuses
[00:25:00.520]with those of us who've not suffered these abuses,
[00:25:03.350]but care about them to take a supportive role
[00:25:07.000]and to listen, to learn, and then to ask
[00:25:13.045]what is it that we can do to support them.
[00:25:17.450]One thing I learned from the Canadian
[00:25:19.570]Truth and Reconciliation Commission is how important it is
[00:25:23.550]to provide a safe place for those who've experienced
[00:25:27.589]these abuses to give testimony
[00:25:32.140]and a place where they can be respected,
[00:25:35.360]and also often to provide some social services,
[00:25:40.370]counseling and psychological services,
[00:25:42.780]because it's really hard to talk about
[00:25:45.200]many of these traumatic events and dredge them up.
[00:25:50.480]And I think that those of us who are not necessarily part
[00:25:54.950]of these groups that have experienced this abuse,
[00:25:58.010]in my case as a white settler,
[00:26:01.920]that I think we may sometimes think,
[00:26:04.977]"Oh, reconciliation, it's like this moment,
[00:26:08.370]where it's this final thing where we give an apology
[00:26:12.510]and now it's all over."
[00:26:14.630]But I think reconciliation is best seen
[00:26:16.650]as a kind of ongoing practice,
[00:26:19.080]that's about forming new relationships
[00:26:22.430]and cultivating those relationships
[00:26:24.910]and sustaining them and moving forward
[00:26:28.840]in a kind of very organic way,
[00:26:30.550]rather than a prescribed or formulaic way.
[00:26:34.270]And finally, I just wanna say,
[00:26:36.000]and I think this will segue well
[00:26:37.670]into the rest of the presentations
[00:26:40.370]that when I started this project,
[00:26:43.300]I was hoping that the United States would someday
[00:26:47.190]have a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission
[00:26:50.180]to deal with all of the historical abuses in this nation.
[00:26:55.950]And I still hope that,
[00:26:57.540]but I do think that we don't have to wait for that
[00:26:59.880]to happen, that we can engage in truth and reconciliation
[00:27:04.070]in our own communities
[00:27:07.415]at the local and the grassroots level
[00:27:09.450]and that those are very powerful in healing local wounds,
[00:27:13.920]and that they can build momentum
[00:27:15.560]toward a state and national process.
[00:27:18.130]So thanks for listening,
[00:27:20.200]and I'm eager to hear what everybody else has to say.
[00:27:27.000]I'm Dewayne Mays.
[00:27:28.910]And so Kevin, if you bring up my first slide.
[00:27:34.840]In an effort to provide some insight into
[00:27:40.680]what I hope to do is to spend a few minutes
[00:27:44.760]just providing a few of the challenges and the outcomes
[00:27:51.190]from the project from an African American perspective.
[00:27:56.220]Preston Love Jr. is the African American writer
[00:27:59.950]so you can expect much more detail from him.
[00:28:04.440]And next slide.
[00:28:07.530]As we looked, Kevin.
[00:28:10.350]As we looked at the history there at the Mandela Picnic,
[00:28:14.300]there were three main concerns that were voiced.
[00:28:19.290]Those dealt with education, policing, and housing.
[00:28:25.900]And next slide.
[00:28:28.820]So in looking at the three outcomes there,
[00:28:33.550]we decided to start with education.
[00:28:36.310]And looking at the education in Nebraska,
[00:28:39.170]what we see is that there are three main thrusts
[00:28:43.100]and differences there.
[00:28:45.000]First of all, early approaches in education there
[00:28:50.600]were observed in outstate Nebraska,
[00:28:53.630]where most of the students and the teachers were white,
[00:28:58.810]but in a few sites, such as DeWitty
[00:29:03.670]and with the Shores families,
[00:29:06.172]they had smaller groups of family members
[00:29:11.550]and they were often able to provide there a teacher
[00:29:16.370]for their group, which was a African American teacher.
[00:29:20.500]And also in observing there, some of the teachers,
[00:29:26.210]African American teachers sometimes taught white students
[00:29:29.570]when there was no white teacher available,
[00:29:32.570]but by and far, most of them were white teachers.
[00:29:37.770]And this was basically not always centered
[00:29:42.250]around Custer, Dawson, and Harlan counties.
[00:29:46.520]The Lincoln approach was somewhat different
[00:29:50.460]because there were very few African Americans
[00:29:56.060]within the city of Lincoln,
[00:29:57.710]so the teachers and the educational system
[00:30:01.030]centered around the white students
[00:30:04.110]and there were no teachers of color until 1955,
[00:30:12.070]which was quite late.
[00:30:15.800]But there was a little diversity there as was said.
[00:30:20.540]In Omaha, it was somewhat different.
[00:30:23.010]There were much larger groups of African Americans
[00:30:27.340]who were segregated and much of that system of education
[00:30:31.740]was similar to the south.
[00:30:38.060]So what were the factors that influenced
[00:30:41.580]the educational system in Nebraska.
[00:30:45.305]In outstate Nebraska, it was just an opportunity.
[00:30:48.010]That was what happened
[00:30:49.080]because there were a few people there.
[00:30:51.110]It was a lack of people of color in those areas.
[00:30:56.580]The African Americans that came to West Nebraska
[00:31:00.040]mainly came through the Homestead Act
[00:31:02.620]where they were looking to for possession of land.
[00:31:06.250]Many of these persons came from the south
[00:31:08.220]and were raised up under slavery.
[00:31:13.890]In Lincoln, one of the problems there that we found
[00:31:20.790]was the redlining that occurred within the Lincoln itself.
[00:31:25.660]Even though there were a few African American people,
[00:31:30.150]they were mainly confined to an area
[00:31:32.850]around the Malone area at that particular time,
[00:31:36.540]and this was because of redlining.
[00:31:39.930]And also there were racial covenants
[00:31:43.230]that kept African Americans from receiving
[00:31:48.260]or having property outside of those areas,
[00:31:51.650]and as well as legal clause.
[00:31:55.170]So there were a few people,
[00:31:56.780]and the hiring of teachers within this system
[00:32:01.450]were reflected within the fact
[00:32:03.890]that most of the African American students
[00:32:07.660]were in that red line area
[00:32:10.180]because of the restricted covenants and the legal clauses
[00:32:14.560]that kept them there.
[00:32:16.830]One of the things that we also find later on
[00:32:21.940]that the Northeast Radial actually came in,
[00:32:26.980]and it removed a lot of people
[00:32:29.070]within that particular area of the city.
[00:32:34.270]Also the University of Nebraska Eastwood Creek
[00:32:39.120]was a conflict there because there were a few...
[00:32:45.700]African Americans were pressured to move to a different area
[00:32:50.510]so that the university could possess that land.
[00:32:54.370]In Omaha, it was much greater
[00:32:56.700]because there was racial segregation there
[00:32:59.737]in the neighborhoods
[00:33:01.210]and also within the neighborhood schools.
[00:33:05.540]And what we find is that with the redlining
[00:33:08.450]which was much more prominent in Omaha than in Lincoln
[00:33:13.900]because there were more people of color that were there
[00:33:17.470]and because the leadership in the school system
[00:33:21.890]refuse to hire teachers to teach white students.
[00:33:25.410]So we find that those things that happen currently
[00:33:36.030]are carryovers to the de facto segregation
[00:33:38.730]that occurs in Omaha at even now.
[00:33:43.930]The North Freeway that went through North Omaha
[00:33:50.180]also was a factor
[00:33:52.510]which divided the African American community in Omaha.
[00:33:58.910]The Homestead Act in 1862,
[00:34:02.790]and that was a major factor that especially
[00:34:06.510]in outer Nebraska.
[00:34:08.950]Redlining which is defined as a systematic disinvestment
[00:34:16.000]of resources and services from the residential,
[00:34:20.160]certain communities especially based on the race.
[00:34:24.110]This is where the lenders and the insurers
[00:34:26.330]and landlords and real estate agents,
[00:34:28.380]they steered people to a specific part of the city
[00:34:32.250]and that included steering African American people of color
[00:34:37.840]to a specific part of the city.
[00:34:42.170]Also, we find in Omaha, there was a segregation
[00:34:48.990]of the Europeans who came from different ethnic groups,
[00:34:56.600]and they were confined mainly to a certain area of Omaha.
[00:35:02.910]But what happened there is that if they were the Europeans,
[00:35:09.300]when they began to take on more of the customs
[00:35:14.420]of the Americans,
[00:35:16.540]they were easily integrated with the white community.
[00:35:23.270]So what we find is that are ramifications that still exist
[00:35:28.110]within the city of Omaha, as well as in the city of Lincoln.
[00:35:33.700]In the city of Lincoln for instance,
[00:35:36.520]schools that within that red line area
[00:35:40.230]have the largest percentage of students of color,
[00:35:44.090]especially in blacks.
[00:35:47.210]That is much more seen in Omaha,
[00:35:55.720]in the North Omaha and other areas
[00:35:58.290]where there were redlining,
[00:36:01.050]those schools were predominantly black.
[00:36:07.450]The affordable housing in those areas was much easier
[00:36:12.610]and much more readily found in those areas of north,
[00:36:16.940]such a North Omaha, South Omaha specific area.
[00:36:22.430]So we had segregated schools
[00:36:25.500]and the unfunded mandates within there,
[00:36:30.140]or in a lack of diversity.
[00:36:39.090]Here we show a map of the redlining that occurred in Omaha.
[00:36:49.830]We would label them A, B, C, and D.
[00:36:53.610]The D areas are the red line areas.
[00:36:57.780]And where we see, especially the area in North Omaha,
[00:37:03.387]which is prevalent.
[00:37:07.390]And in care, those areas are quite prevalent
[00:37:13.200]and are areas of great need within that community.
[00:37:21.440]So we talk about racial missteps and opportunities
[00:37:27.190]that were failures to address the changes that were needed
[00:37:31.300]because it involve investments
[00:37:34.190]and the investments were not made in those particular areas.
[00:37:40.040]And certainly we are finding that redlining
[00:37:43.730]continues to impact communities,
[00:37:46.130]as we said communities today,
[00:37:47.910]not only in Omaha, but in Lincoln as well.
[00:37:55.660]So, and my timing, the statements there,
[00:38:01.540]what we are talking about is that we're assuming
[00:38:06.540]that previous statements that we made, that they're true,
[00:38:11.530]then there's a question of how do we find reconciliation
[00:38:16.460]for those missteps.
[00:38:19.690]Then also the who were there to make those necessary steps
[00:38:25.530]or take those necessary steps to make those corrections,
[00:38:29.360]because here again,
[00:38:31.930]resources need to be directed to address those needs
[00:38:37.010]or those differences.
[00:38:42.180]At this time, the legislature had an effort
[00:38:47.860]to provide relief to North Omaha area just recently,
[00:38:53.310]and there were $150 million were asked for
[00:39:00.580]to address those needs.
[00:39:04.510]Before that bill was passed,
[00:39:08.110]the reality was that many, much of the moneys
[00:39:13.054]while it had been significantly diluted for
[00:39:17.090]because and spread to other areas around.
[00:39:21.020]So those are some of the things that usually happen
[00:39:25.450]when there are efforts to address those needs
[00:39:28.290]within those communities.
[00:39:31.010]At this time, Kevin, it's yours.
[00:39:38.480]All right. Thank you, Dewayne.
[00:39:40.700]Share some slides here as well.
[00:39:43.660]So I serve as the project editor for this project.
[00:39:49.380]And so I just wanna talk a little bit about my hopes,
[00:39:53.410]my vision a little bit for what we hope
[00:39:56.340]to accomplish with this and how we hope to accomplish it.
[00:40:00.350]One of the aims of our project is to tell the stories
[00:40:04.300]of Nebraska's forgotten minorities and new immigrants.
[00:40:08.090]In that van, I'd encourage everyone listening today
[00:40:09.960]to learn the names of the tribes that once roam the lands
[00:40:12.400]you now call home,
[00:40:13.510]if you don't already know them.
[00:40:15.690]In Lincoln and Lancaster county, that Pawnee, Oto-Missouria,
[00:40:19.040]Omaha and Kansa peoples
[00:40:21.770]called the salt basin around present day Lincoln home.
[00:40:26.640]The Omaha called the area Niskithe or saltwater.
[00:40:30.440]And their women used eagle feathers to collect the salt,
[00:40:32.870]which they used to cure buffalo meat.
[00:40:35.700]Under pressure from federal officials and settlers,
[00:40:38.610]the Oto-Missouria's ceded the land that became Lincoln
[00:40:41.880]to the federal government in 1833 and 1854.
[00:40:46.080]And this forced out the tribal peoples
[00:40:47.840]who had called the Niskithe home for many generations.
[00:40:51.430]Across Nebraska, the Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Iowa,
[00:40:54.940]and Sauk and Fox peoples
[00:40:56.930]ventured these lands for generations.
[00:41:01.890]Another story I'd like to share is about the town
[00:41:03.430]of DeWitty Nebraska in the Sandhills
[00:41:05.160]that was founded in 1907 by African-American homesteaders
[00:41:08.520]and became the state's largest and most permanent colony
[00:41:11.250]of black homesteaders.
[00:41:13.180]By 1920, 185 African Americans claimed 40,000 acres
[00:41:19.530]around DeWitty via the Kinkaid act.
[00:41:26.720]And did you know that when many states on the east
[00:41:29.070]and west coast began putting Japanese Americans
[00:41:32.330]into intern camps during World War II,
[00:41:35.540]that Nebraska actually welcomed many of them
[00:41:37.590]into its state universities?
[00:41:39.680]In fact in 1942, the University of Nebraska
[00:41:43.290]Board of Regents approved admitting
[00:41:45.500]up to 50 Japanese American students.
[00:41:51.760]These are just a few of the stories we plan to share
[00:41:54.320]as part of the Roots of Justice project.
[00:41:56.710]Of course not all of the stories we'll be sharing
[00:41:58.540]will paint Nebraska in such a rosy light.
[00:42:00.630]And we certainly have no plans to ignore
[00:42:02.500]the more painful episodes in our state's history.
[00:42:05.540]And we certainly realize this will be a difficult task
[00:42:08.230]considering the backlash nationally
[00:42:10.230]and here in Nebraska regarding critical race theory,
[00:42:13.450]but what greater disservice could we commit
[00:42:15.070]against the memories of our ancestors
[00:42:17.270]than to ignore the historical record.
[00:42:20.810]So how do we plan to accomplish this task?
[00:42:25.330]This people's history of Nebraska
[00:42:27.360]will be told in an interesting, compelling,
[00:42:29.250]and insightful manner using both statistical information
[00:42:32.660]and anecdotal evidence to attempt to portray
[00:42:35.600]the individual acts and the institutional efforts
[00:42:38.180]to keep indigenous and non-Caucasian immigrants
[00:42:40.490]to this state from prospering.
[00:42:42.550]This document will seek to educate Nebraskans
[00:42:44.910]of all ethnic and racial groups about a vital part
[00:42:47.350]of Nebraska's history that is until now been left
[00:42:50.560]mostly unwritten and unspoken.
[00:42:53.040]Our goal is to ensure this text is comprehensible,
[00:42:56.070]not only to historians and educators,
[00:42:58.310]but also to students as young as those in middle school.
[00:43:01.420]Drawing from a nearly 800 item bibliography
[00:43:04.130]compiled in 2021,
[00:43:06.060]the five writers for this project
[00:43:07.750]will seek to use many historical accounts of the experiences
[00:43:10.740]of native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos,
[00:43:14.020]recent refugees, excuse me,
[00:43:17.110]and African Americans to inform the various narratives.
[00:43:20.540]Wherever possible, we'll work to ensure personal stories
[00:43:23.290]are told within this book.
[00:43:24.920]And when possible we'll seek personal interviews
[00:43:27.470]with those who really live this history
[00:43:29.680]to ensure contemporary voices are heard in this document.
[00:43:32.900]Only through such an approach can we ensure
[00:43:35.030]that the contributions of our states forgotten peoples
[00:43:37.940]are honored and documented for future generations.
[00:43:41.350]In addition to historical narratives,
[00:43:43.210]we plan to present our findings through other media,
[00:43:45.470]including photos and video, whenever possible,
[00:43:48.510]in order to make this material as engaging as possible
[00:43:51.090]for people of all ages.
[00:43:53.180]In the end, it is our hope that by conducting a fair
[00:43:57.050]and honest examination of Nebraska's history
[00:44:00.070]as it relates to race and racism,
[00:44:02.030]that we might continue the truth and reconciliation efforts
[00:44:05.250]begun so many years ago with the first Mandela Picnic.
[00:44:08.560]Thank you, I'll pass it back to Paul Olson.
[00:44:14.970]Thank you panelists.
[00:44:16.970]Now, we'd like to turn it over the audience
[00:44:18.790]and ask you both to critique of we're trying to do,
[00:44:22.780]suggest directions that we might undertake
[00:44:25.770]and suggest ways in which you might do
[00:44:27.580]similar kinds of things or better things
[00:44:29.840]in your immediate surroundings.
[00:44:32.990]So if you'll turn your videos on and unmute yourselves
[00:44:40.560]and raise your hand or go into the chat,
[00:44:44.147]I'll call on people and I'll try to direct your questions
[00:44:47.330]to the panelists.
[00:45:05.450]Susan Shackleford is asking isn't redlining illegal?
[00:45:08.680]Can't realtors be prosecuted?
[00:45:12.545]I imagine that Dewayne Mays wish to speak to that.
[00:45:25.672]Redlining is illegal.
[00:45:29.532]But it had been legal for quite a while.
[00:45:34.380]And as a result, well, it became illegal in 1968.
[00:45:42.100]But the carryover from all of the time that it was legal
[00:45:46.540]and also many times the thoughts or was not...
[00:45:58.243]I'm searching for my words here.
[00:46:01.050]It was not illegal, but many times it was an unspoken law
[00:46:06.580]or unspoken rule, and it was accepted by the community
[00:46:10.840]and those persons in charge.
[00:46:15.230]Suzanne, you may remember that just within
[00:46:18.030]the last couple years, there were a bunch of tufts
[00:46:21.680]in Lincoln that roughed up black man
[00:46:23.540]who went into a neighborhood where no black people go
[00:46:26.250]and told them that, "You don't belong in this neighborhood."
[00:46:31.610]That happens pretty regularly in Lincoln
[00:46:35.600]and I'm sure in Omaha.
[00:46:45.570]I have a question for the audience.
[00:46:48.800]Are there any of you out there who are doing
[00:46:51.520]any similar work in your communities elsewhere,
[00:46:56.010]or all of you local,
[00:46:57.240]or do you have any things to share with us
[00:47:01.280]about what might work in your communities as well?
[00:47:15.320]Paula Ray asks, what steps can we do on a local level
[00:47:18.780]to support this effort?
[00:47:22.420]And that relates to the question that Margaret did asked.
[00:47:26.530]I would say that the most,
[00:47:28.620]the two things that have really been important
[00:47:30.540]to this process to my mind and Dewayne and Kevin
[00:47:35.420]can speak more to it,
[00:47:37.020]have been the fact that we found a team of people
[00:47:41.210]that work together well.
[00:47:43.240]And it's extraordinary that if one person
[00:47:46.390]doesn't do something,
[00:47:48.250]somebody else sort of automatically picks it up.
[00:47:51.680]And we have a wide range of abilities from people
[00:47:54.550]who have been executives to people who know the media,
[00:47:58.310]to people who are knowledgeable in the law
[00:48:02.380]and people who know the various cultures,
[00:48:05.370]that's helped a lot.
[00:48:07.930]The second thing that's been really important
[00:48:09.830]is to raise enough funds so that we could get it done.
[00:48:13.030]We've raised about a $100 thousand
[00:48:15.710]mostly from individual donations.
[00:48:18.190]That sounds pretty pedestrian,
[00:48:19.730]that doesn't like the imagination,
[00:48:22.390]but you cannot write a history of racism in a place
[00:48:27.470]that has any character without paying people.
[00:48:33.748]As one of the speakers this morning said,
[00:48:35.297]"You shouldn't invite people to talk."
[00:48:38.020]The bolder people said, "You shouldn't invite people to talk
[00:48:40.590]unless you're gonna pay them."
[00:48:42.374]Well, you certainly shouldn't write
[00:48:43.207]or ask people to write scholarly histories without work
[00:48:49.890]and we've had very generous contributions
[00:48:54.190]of anything from $5 to $5,000 from hundreds of people.
[00:49:02.037]Brenda Thompson in Arizona.
[00:49:04.450]And I just wanted to thank you
[00:49:06.430]because there's so much that has been conveyed
[00:49:09.640]by this panel.
[00:49:11.360]I'm the director of Arizona humanities.
[00:49:12.950]And so I look at the work that you're doing,
[00:49:16.100]the foundation of it as being education,
[00:49:18.860]because so much of what you're describing,
[00:49:22.410]people are not aware of.
[00:49:24.480]It doesn't matter what their background is in terms of race.
[00:49:28.120]The education has been so remiss,
[00:49:29.980]there's such a gap in understanding.
[00:49:32.740]And many times what I'm seeing is people don't understand
[00:49:36.310]that what is happening to them is not personal to them.
[00:49:39.280]They think maybe they didn't have a good credit history,
[00:49:41.740]or they're made to feel like they're buying
[00:49:44.170]too much house for their money.
[00:49:46.040]And until education and histories are captured
[00:49:49.010]about redlining, about banking practices,
[00:49:51.260]about the social practices,
[00:49:53.610]they don't understand that people are not just living
[00:49:55.530]in a neighborhood because that's where they chose to live.
[00:49:58.520]Sometimes the neighborhoods were sliced in half by highways.
[00:50:02.340]Sometimes the neighborhoods were great, they were thriving.
[00:50:06.670]And then that's where they put the town dump
[00:50:08.650]or the nuclear plant.
[00:50:12.210]Why do you wanna sell nuclear waste
[00:50:14.500]to Native American reservations?
[00:50:16.740]And yet when you want water
[00:50:18.890]in the source of the Colorado river,
[00:50:19.930]you want it to come from Native American lands
[00:50:22.040]because that's where ownership rights originate.
[00:50:25.200]And some of those things have been battled for 90 years.
[00:50:28.350]And the courts fights over who owns the water
[00:50:30.490]as if the source or where the water goes through.
[00:50:32.930]And all of those things can determine wealth
[00:50:35.800]for generations, home ownership.
[00:50:38.660]And what's so scary right now
[00:50:40.040]is what's happening economically post pandemic,
[00:50:42.390]because at least here in Arizona,
[00:50:44.570]I was talking with a realtor who said
[00:50:47.080]three or four mortgage companies have bought up huge blocks
[00:50:51.240]of family homes, middle and lower class homes.
[00:50:54.860]And they're no hurry to sell them back.
[00:50:58.570]And if they don't sell them for 30 or 40% more,
[00:51:02.140]they'll just rent them,
[00:51:03.870]but rents are now as high as mortgages.
[00:51:06.920]So families can't buy and if they rent,
[00:51:10.510]they can't own and develop equity
[00:51:13.510]that they can borrow against.
[00:51:15.180]And so it actually perpetuates poverty
[00:51:18.740]for everyone, people of color,
[00:51:20.480]but also poor whites and middle class whites.
[00:51:23.750]And so that whole disparity of people controlling decisions
[00:51:29.080]politically and economically and investments
[00:51:32.620]means that what happens post pandemic
[00:51:35.360]in terms of the economic recovery is gonna be affected
[00:51:39.010]by something as simple and as clear as home ownership,
[00:51:42.530]despite all the legal protections that are there.
[00:51:46.610]And then also the thing that I would touch on
[00:51:49.510]that from a humanities perspective
[00:51:51.850]and the storytelling part that is so important
[00:51:53.880]is even apart from these institutionalized
[00:51:57.360]and systemic racism issues is the social and personal level
[00:52:02.360]and the practices of writing stories
[00:52:05.050]to a home seller about why you should be the family
[00:52:08.940]that should own their home.
[00:52:12.310]What if they don't wanna sell to a black family
[00:52:14.740]or a Muslim's family or a Mormon family?
[00:52:17.830]Why is it that you can't just buy a house?
[00:52:20.400]If you qualify financially,
[00:52:21.910]why do they have to know who you are at all?
[00:52:23.940]Why does that matter?
[00:52:25.470]Kind of like, well, you can go buy a car out of a machine
[00:52:27.760]and not have to go to a lot
[00:52:29.200]and have a markup if you're a woman or a person of color
[00:52:31.940]or a higher interest rate, and it's happening a lot.
[00:52:35.860]And this is no different than the covenants
[00:52:37.770]that were illegal, discussed earlier in this conference.
[00:52:40.710]Where like even William Rehnquist bought a home
[00:52:42.500]in a neighborhood in Phoenix, and it had a racial covenant.
[00:52:44.680]You cannot sell this home to a black person if you buy it.
[00:52:47.730]So even if it's legally uninforcible, it still happens.
[00:52:51.550]People just decide, "I'm not gonna sell to somebody
[00:52:53.560]who I don't want living in this neighborhood
[00:52:55.760]even after I've got it."
[00:52:58.120]Because of my neighbors or the perceived property values.
[00:53:01.720]And then two things I just mentioned,
[00:53:03.640]'cause obviously this is emotionally overwhelming,
[00:53:07.120]but super inspiring, this panel has been.
[00:53:09.950]It's two things.
[00:53:12.440]The situation where the black woman
[00:53:13.930]was selling her home out, it was in the gold coast in DC,
[00:53:16.810]beautiful home, black neighborhood, wealthy,
[00:53:19.010]and lowballed, you know, by a realtor.
[00:53:21.340]And then she had white friends come and poses homeowners
[00:53:25.050]and the house was offered for like,
[00:53:26.270]I dunno, is it 250,000 or $500,000 more?
[00:53:29.370]The only thing that changed was the face of the person
[00:53:31.120]who opened the front door.
[00:53:32.610]So that's shocking.
[00:53:34.010]And then also that you can walk or live
[00:53:36.430]or run in a neighborhood
[00:53:37.720]and it's not just about the economic choice, but your life.
[00:53:41.510]Ahmaud Arbery was killed because he was walking
[00:53:44.780]or running through a neighborhood
[00:53:46.120]that he was perceived not to belong in,
[00:53:49.380]and yet the surrounding communities,
[00:53:52.330]people who've lived and grown up there and know
[00:53:54.250]lived 20 minutes away have said
[00:53:56.450]it's well known that you cannot live, work,
[00:53:59.890]or walk safely in that community
[00:54:01.150]and that the community was proud to be white
[00:54:06.010]and made it difficult for black people to live, work,
[00:54:08.620]or walk through it and felt that that was a symbol
[00:54:12.800]of pride and that they were protecting that.
[00:54:16.520]And then it was protected by the courts
[00:54:18.600]and by the police and by the attorney
[00:54:22.120]who didn't bring a case for three months
[00:54:25.130]after he was killed until video was leaked.
[00:54:27.220]Did not even think it was legally actionable
[00:54:29.630]that someone jogging and unarmed could be killed by someone
[00:54:34.850]coming after them with pick-up trucks and shotguns.
[00:54:38.060]And so the social etiquette or social morals
[00:54:40.840]or cultural acceptance of segregation and discrimination
[00:54:45.250]based on race is alive and well.
[00:54:47.280]And until it's in front of us,
[00:54:48.970]like what you're doing this research, the storytelling,
[00:54:53.060]people don't know it.
[00:54:54.950]They don't see it, they don't get it.
[00:54:57.130]And it's a stark when you capture these stories,
[00:54:59.580]it is stark and unirrefutable.
[00:55:02.310]So what you're doing is so important.
[00:55:06.440]I can't thank you enough.
[00:55:07.870]We need that kind of encouragement.
[00:55:10.220]And I hope that it will happen in Arizona as well.
[00:55:14.420]And Marykay Stillwill had the question,
[00:55:17.540]is the state or any cities or any cities engage with you
[00:55:20.560]in this work?
[00:55:21.393]How can churches, schools, et cetera,
[00:55:22.980]partner with your group and financial group,
[00:55:27.040]which is also necessary?
[00:55:30.290]I'll give a shot at this and then Dewayne
[00:55:37.495]or Kathleen may also have answers.
[00:55:41.310]The state Department of Education has engaged with us.
[00:55:47.780]They're concerned about the curriculum,
[00:55:49.780]about racism and athletic events
[00:55:52.060]and about the failure of the state to recruit anything
[00:55:57.630]like the number of percentage of teachers of color
[00:56:00.060]that are necessary for our schools.
[00:56:04.580]And then the city has...
[00:56:09.600]The school system in Lincoln has also worked with us.
[00:56:14.400]We're working to now to get endorsements from churches
[00:56:19.980]all over Lincoln and hopefully all over Nebraska.
[00:56:22.980]And we're trying to create
[00:56:24.360]the kind of social support network,
[00:56:28.240]which will make it impossible for the people
[00:56:34.920]who don't want us to succeed, to isolate us
[00:56:37.210]and say that we're a bunch of dangerous fools.
[00:56:41.300]And does anyone else wish to...
[00:56:45.351]I know I have only a minute left,
[00:56:47.390]but we may go on a little bit beyond.
[00:56:49.220]I don't know if Margaret will shut us off or not.
[00:56:52.230]Do Dewayne or Kathleen have comments to make
[00:56:55.620]on how we're trying to build a support network?
[00:57:00.570]Well, one of the things that we are doing
[00:57:02.900]is we are also trying to show that the parallels
[00:57:06.910]that's in between housing and education,
[00:57:12.220]because in the communities
[00:57:14.670]where there is low income housing,
[00:57:18.570]the school system will reflect that particular community.
[00:57:24.540]And so we need to think about that.
[00:57:27.680]And then how do we infuse a wider variety of students
[00:57:34.440]or people within our communities
[00:57:37.870]so that we don't have such a community
[00:57:40.610]where schools are predominantly low income.
[00:57:48.330]One thing I might mention is that kind of interestingly,
[00:57:52.800]when some of the police murders have occurred,
[00:57:56.660]the evangelical churches, quite a few of them in Lincoln
[00:57:59.410]published an ad repudiating the kind of racism
[00:58:03.243]that that represented.
[00:58:05.220]And we had some work with them.
[00:58:06.337]You think of one thing you should never do I think
[00:58:10.090]when you're trying this kind of organizing
[00:58:11.820]is to assume that somebody is gonna be your friend.
[00:58:15.860]You have painted plenty of people who aren't your friends,
[00:58:18.530]so that looking for people in the most unlikely places,
[00:58:24.250]in fundamentalist churches, in Chambers of Commerce,
[00:58:28.580]in Republican circles,
[00:58:31.410]you sometimes find them there.
[00:58:33.500]And I'm a sort of knee jerk liberal,
[00:58:35.570]and I don't assume that that's gonna happen,
[00:58:37.730]but it does sometimes.
[00:58:38.900]And very important support sometimes comes
[00:58:41.600]from those sorts of quarters.
[00:58:48.480]Are there other questions?
[00:58:51.100]How can you be so optimistic
[00:58:54.470]given the current content and tenor
[00:58:59.330]of the political ads running on our media waves
[00:59:04.540]for candidates for statewide office?
[00:59:09.221]It's shameful that we have that attitude
[00:59:16.760]that must be supported by a majority of our citizens.
[00:59:20.840]So as an individual,
[00:59:22.720]I say 53 years ago, I moved to Nebraska
[00:59:28.510]after being a civil rights lawyer in the south
[00:59:32.000]because I didn't wanna raise my children
[00:59:34.030]in that environment.
[00:59:36.350]Now, I'm horrified to see what my grandchildren
[00:59:41.120]and great grandchildren are being exposed to
[00:59:44.700]when they turn on television.
[00:59:47.940]So count me in, Paul.
[00:59:50.510]If we're going to war, I'm ready.
[00:59:59.059]I was grown up in the Apartheid south.
[01:00:03.360]I feel like the cowboy that goes to the barn dance
[01:00:07.640]and finds out that his boot has been nailed to the floor.
[01:00:13.340]Let me try and answer.
[01:00:14.530]Kathleen has spent a lot of her time in political analysis.
[01:00:18.360]So why don't you start Kathleen answering W. Don Nelson?
[01:00:22.800]Well, I'm not gonna refer to my political analysis roots.
[01:00:28.940]I just wanna point out that this question
[01:00:30.720]was asked in a session immediately before this one.
[01:00:34.480]And a good point was made,
[01:00:37.360]a native woman whose tribe is from North Dakota
[01:00:41.780]was asked about, "Well, how do you do this in a red state?"
[01:00:45.000]And she said to, "Don't assume."
[01:00:47.990]She said, "North Dakota just adopted a curriculum
[01:00:51.760]with regard to boarding schools for native children."
[01:00:56.220]She said, "People do like to learn things
[01:00:58.630]when they have the opportunity they're interested.
[01:01:02.010]So offer to learn together."
[01:01:03.700]Now that probably sounds like Pollyanna thinking
[01:01:07.930]to W. Don Nelson,
[01:01:09.500]but don't lose hope just 'cause it looks
[01:01:12.380]kind of bleak in Nebraska.
[01:01:17.944]I suppose we also need people like you to speak up
[01:01:23.890]and voice those opinion because many people
[01:01:30.110]have not spoken up who may feel that way,
[01:01:32.640]but have not expressed that.
[01:01:34.520]And so the loudest voices sometimes
[01:01:38.590]are the voices that are heard.
[01:01:43.490]I think Don that we tend to assume
[01:01:53.440]that our political leadership speaks for Nebraska
[01:01:56.400]and they win elections by playing non-bigotry.
[01:02:00.460]But you know, it's very interesting to me
[01:02:03.440]that when we tend to assume that the Sandhills
[01:02:07.810]and the ranch country of Nebraska
[01:02:09.440]is extremely inimical to a people of color.
[01:02:15.080]And yet, the pipeline was stopped
[01:02:17.370]essentially by an alliance of ranchers
[01:02:19.600]and Native American people.
[01:02:21.790]That was one of the great political victories
[01:02:23.530]that the environmental movement has had
[01:02:26.050]in the last 20 years.
[01:02:28.000]So I think what we have to do is we have to think not
[01:02:31.080]in cliches about so and so's white,
[01:02:34.930]therefore he's a racist,
[01:02:36.220]or so and so is Native American,
[01:02:38.450]therefore he is full of hate or he is full or black
[01:02:42.940]and they therefore unwilling to negotiate
[01:02:46.350]with Native America, with Caucasian people.
[01:02:51.770]What we're trying to do I think is to work
[01:02:56.960]between the cliches against the cliches.
[01:03:00.250]And we're not in this Don for five years,
[01:03:04.250]I do wanna live to see the end of this,
[01:03:06.280]but I hope this is a century long effort.
[01:03:09.790]It's taken 400 years to create the bigotry we have,
[01:03:14.570]it may take a hundred years to get rid of it.
[01:03:20.990]Are there other questions?
[01:03:23.810]I just wanna add something
[01:03:25.170]that I think it's really easy to be taken in
[01:03:28.740]by the loudest, you know, brashest,
[01:03:32.780]most fiery voices out there,
[01:03:37.110]but those really aren't necessarily the opinion
[01:03:40.310]of the majority of people.
[01:03:44.351]Again, in my research and talking with people all over,
[01:03:47.710]and Kevin and I work really closely together on a project
[01:03:51.350]called Reconciliation Rising.
[01:03:53.480]We meet people all the time
[01:03:55.310]who I believe are really hungry for healing.
[01:03:58.700]If you wanna put it that way,
[01:04:00.310]that don't want the status quo
[01:04:03.430]and don't want to continue to not deny
[01:04:06.890]these painful histories and want to do something about it.
[01:04:11.570]And I believe probably all of you who are here today
[01:04:14.690]are in that category.
[01:04:16.570]And so I feel like we have a lot of work to do
[01:04:20.060]to amplify the voices of those of us
[01:04:23.110]who are hungry for healing and who do want to end
[01:04:28.100]the bigotry and who want to find a way
[01:04:32.060]to respond to the suffering as Walter Echo-Hawk
[01:04:35.590]put it last night,
[01:04:36.560]how do we respond to that suffering
[01:04:38.630]in positive healing ways?
[01:04:41.510]And so I used to be really downhearted
[01:04:46.100]and really pessimistic before Kevin and I
[01:04:48.690]started our work together
[01:04:50.720]and started interviewing people for podcasts and film.
[01:04:55.620]And then I have really,
[01:04:58.040]I really hold on to that as a way to keep hope alive
[01:05:04.560]that there is a different way to approach this history.
[01:05:08.610]And I'm really grateful for Paul Olson
[01:05:10.820]and all of his efforts and Kathy Rutledge
[01:05:13.420]and Dewayne Mays and Kevin Abourezk
[01:05:16.020]for this incredible work that they're doing on this project.
[01:05:18.730]And I'm really grateful to all of you
[01:05:20.040]who are are here today.
[01:05:23.640]One last question, do we need volunteers?
[01:05:25.890]The answer is yes.
[01:05:28.140]And my email address is polson2, email@example.com.
[01:05:35.990]And if you send an email to me and wanna volunteer,
[01:05:38.450]I will find a way to use you.
[01:05:40.958]We'll probably forward the letter
[01:05:43.470]or the note to Kathleen or Kevin
[01:05:47.200]who's doing a great deal of the work,
[01:05:49.470]or Dewayne who's leading the project.
[01:05:53.410]I think we've gone 10 minutes over now,
[01:05:55.390]and I'm really grateful for the discussion.
[01:05:57.980]I'm sorry that we weren't as speedy as we wanted to be,
[01:06:02.080]but thank you very much.
[01:06:05.300]Oh, Jeanette had her hand up for a while.
[01:06:07.150]Did we get to hear from her?
[01:06:09.430]Jeanette Gabriel had her hand up for a while.
[01:06:13.613]Did I miss Jeanette Gabriel's?
[01:06:16.690]Yeah, there she is.
[01:06:18.754]Hi, Margaret and Paul.
[01:06:20.310]Thank you for this wonderful session.
[01:06:22.780]It's so exciting to hear.
[01:06:25.290]I wanted to mention that I put in the chat
[01:06:29.730]a few comments about some of the groups
[01:06:32.160]that maybe are not included
[01:06:33.830]that you might wanna consider be included.
[01:06:36.350]Nebraska has such a fascinating history
[01:06:38.730]in terms of groups becoming white
[01:06:41.330]and the process of whiteness.
[01:06:43.820]And this is really a goal
[01:06:45.760]of our Omaha Spatial Justice project in Omaha,
[01:06:49.960]which comes out of seeking data and documentation
[01:06:54.610]for reparations claims.
[01:06:56.650]We recently traveled to a national symposium
[01:06:59.620]in Evanston, Illinois,
[01:07:01.610]which is the first site of government funded reparations.
[01:07:05.750]And I would be pleased to meet with you
[01:07:07.300]and discuss some of the things that came out of that.
[01:07:09.750]What my colleagues and I really learned
[01:07:12.660]is that there is a real need
[01:07:15.320]to be able to connect reparations projects to data.
[01:07:19.450]And that is what our research team is really working on
[01:07:22.910]and would be happy to discuss with you further.
[01:07:26.843]Send me an email on so I get in touch with you
[01:07:29.680]and I'll send it on to the rest of the group.
[01:07:32.130]Our group deals essentially with the parallel histories
[01:07:36.547]of people of color.
[01:07:37.870]But I recognize, I wrote to synagogue in Lincoln
[01:07:42.670]asking for support recently.
[01:07:44.280]And I said, I recognize that there are other histories
[01:07:48.909]of racist oppression direct against Eastern Europeans
[01:07:53.130]and Jewish people and the like that need to be treated too.
[01:07:56.470]And we perhaps need to find a parallel path
[01:07:58.810]and support for each other.
[01:08:01.070]Thank you very much.
[01:08:03.694]Kathy has her hand up.
[01:08:12.398]I'm just a fidgeter, I'm sorry.
[01:08:15.640]Are we ready to adjourn to close the meeting?
[01:08:18.580]Thank you everybody for the participation, the discussion.
[01:08:21.040]And thank you, especially the audience.
[01:08:24.070]I didn't imagine that we could even have
[01:08:26.090]a good discussion on Zoom,
[01:08:27.360]but it turned out to be pretty lively, thank you.
[01:08:31.287]Thank you, everybody.
[01:08:32.547]Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
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