Surviving the Onslaught: 50 Years of Assaults and Persistence — Black Studies and the North Omaha Community
Barbara Hewins-Maroney (Associate Professor, UNO), Cynthia Robinson (Associate Professor, UNO)
2021 is the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Studies Department at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Begun during a time of social unrest in the country, the department has weathered attacks on its curriculum and its focus of uplifting the achievements of African Americans. As the department was being organized, the North Omaha community was being assaulted and vilified. The killing of a 14-year-old teenager Vivian Strong by a white Omaha policeman and his acquittal of her murder by an all-white jury sent the black North Omaha community into an uproar. Three days of civil unrest resulted in the destruction of property, arrests, and the entrenchment of black power ideologies throughout the community. Now 50 years later, the UNO Black Studies Department survives but is assaulted by disparate funding strategies, schemes to strip the department of its status, and on-going threats regarding its curriculum and viability. (Moderator: Eric Ewing)
Part of the Reckoning & Reconciliation on the Great Plains summit
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[00:00:05.640]Good afternoon, everyone.
[00:00:07.650]We'll go ahead...
[00:00:09.690]To be mindful of everyone's time,
[00:00:11.240]we'll go ahead and get started.
[00:00:13.730]My name is Eric Ewing, I'm the executive director
[00:00:16.180]here at the Great Plains Black History Museum
[00:00:18.410]and I'd like to welcome you to today's discussion,
[00:00:21.640]Surviving the Onslaught 50 Years of Assault and Persistence,
[00:00:27.300]Black Studies and the North Omaha Community.
[00:00:31.090]Today, we have Dr. Barbara Maroney and Dr. Cynthia Robinson,
[00:00:38.170]who will be our facilitators
[00:00:43.174]and telling the information about...
[00:00:45.050]As we move along, I'm gonna read a short bio
[00:00:47.660]from both of them,
[00:00:48.510]we'll start with Dr. Maroney.
[00:00:51.030]She is an associate professor,
[00:00:52.950]in the Goodrich Scholarship Program,
[00:00:54.930]in the school of public administration
[00:00:57.430]at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
[00:00:59.980]Her research focus is on policies
[00:01:03.080]and history of African American populations
[00:01:06.230]in the west, especially in Nebraska
[00:01:09.060]and historical public health in Nebraska.
[00:01:13.670]Dr. Cynthia Robinson is the chair
[00:01:15.740]of the Department of Black Studies
[00:01:17.740]at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
[00:01:20.260]She is also an associate professor;
[00:01:22.560]Black Studies and Communication,
[00:01:25.160]her research interests are race and discrimination
[00:01:28.117]and their impact on underrepresented
[00:01:31.440]and marginalized population.
[00:01:33.750]I wanna, first of all, say I'm just happy
[00:01:36.540]to be a part of these ladies, these doctors,
[00:01:41.910]who have had such greater accomplishments in their life.
[00:01:44.810]I'm just glad to be a fly on the wall
[00:01:47.750]as we have our discussion today.
[00:01:49.410]So docs I'll let you take it over.
[00:01:55.070]Thank you, Eric.
[00:01:57.291]Thank you very much.
[00:01:59.250]I'm looking for something to share with you.
[00:02:04.570]When we first started thinking about this,
[00:02:06.950]we thought about, for African Americans
[00:02:10.140]I have students who think for some reason
[00:02:13.080]that African Americans just came to Nebraska
[00:02:17.880]in the 20th century, but that was not true
[00:02:20.910]because if you started looking at the history of Nebraska
[00:02:24.050]and Mr. Ewing knows this,
[00:02:25.630]the first written document to of African Americans
[00:02:28.630]was probably York on the discovery expedition
[00:02:31.360]with Lewis and Clark.
[00:02:32.870]But if you really dig deep into the literature,
[00:02:35.640]you will find that there have been remnants
[00:02:39.000]of the presence of African Americans, especially Moores,
[00:02:44.130]probably who were with the Spanish,
[00:02:46.930]who were discovering this area back in the '15 and 1600s.
[00:02:51.570]But needless to say, African Americans have been in Nebraska
[00:02:54.697]and Nebraska territories.
[00:02:56.350]Since the early 1800s,
[00:02:59.720]we saw them working on the river as roustabouts;
[00:03:02.840]We saw them working on the Union Pacific Railroad.
[00:03:06.020]Some history that's been lost is for that
[00:03:09.740]when the railroad was first suggested,
[00:03:14.990]they were looking at where they could get labors.
[00:03:17.120]And they actually looked at slaves,
[00:03:19.020]they wanted to bring slaves and freed men
[00:03:22.830]from the south to lay the rails for the Union Pacific.
[00:03:26.060]It didn't quite work out,
[00:03:27.500]but they eventually did bring a number of African Americans
[00:03:30.970]to the Omaha area to work on the Union Pacific.
[00:03:34.140]And of course, because Nebraska was touted
[00:03:37.460]as being such a place for opportunities,
[00:03:40.370]you had an entrepreneurial class that came to Nebraska.
[00:03:44.370]We had doctors and attorneys who are African American,
[00:03:47.570]who came from the east seeking opportunities.
[00:03:51.440]But along with them,
[00:03:53.080]you also found these white Southerners and Easterners
[00:03:57.030]who moved to Nebraska because they really wanted
[00:04:00.680]to make Nebraska a slave state
[00:04:02.750]before it actually became a state.
[00:04:05.690]And they also were looking for ways to escape the civil war,
[00:04:09.730]so they moved to Nebraska.
[00:04:13.180]But there were really tough times
[00:04:14.990]for African Americans living in Nebraska.
[00:04:17.960]We of course know about the lynchings
[00:04:20.650]or have heard about the lynchings
[00:04:22.580]one in 1891 with Joe Coe and George Smith,
[00:04:26.550]and then September 1919 with Will Brown.
[00:04:31.290]But I also need to mention, I don't have on the slides
[00:04:34.550]when the 15th Amendment was passed,
[00:04:37.310]you can read in the old newspapers about the tough times
[00:04:41.260]that black men had just trying to vote.
[00:04:45.180]Being beat up, not being able to cast their ballots.
[00:04:49.730]And it was federal law to allow blacks to vote, tough times.
[00:04:54.060]After World War I, we saw that there was a recovery period
[00:04:58.480]and a lot of social disruption
[00:05:00.670]because African American males were coming back
[00:05:03.310]into the country after the war and African American women
[00:05:07.500]who had volunteered to do a lot of domestic work
[00:05:14.510]during the war, also found themselves out of jobs.
[00:05:18.820]And tough times because many of the businesses
[00:05:24.560]and educational opportunities
[00:05:26.620]that they were working toward, they found themselves
[00:05:30.850]that these things like they had their own hotels,
[00:05:33.500]we had our own newspapers,
[00:05:34.940]we had our own grocery stores and restaurants,
[00:05:37.590]and we really wanted more education.
[00:05:40.950]And I've been interviewing nurses,
[00:05:43.510]especially nurses who did their training
[00:05:46.110]back in the 1930s and 1940s, and found
[00:05:49.500]unfortunately, that many had to leave Omaha
[00:05:52.840]in order to be trained.
[00:05:54.940]If they were accepted into any of the training programs
[00:06:00.950]in this area, they would only accept two of them.
[00:06:03.810]And what my question, why two?
[00:06:06.180]It's two because if there were dormitories,
[00:06:09.020]they would not put a black and a white
[00:06:11.200]in the same dormitory room.
[00:06:14.440]And for the university,
[00:06:15.860]since we're taught about the University of Nebraska at Omaha
[00:06:19.480]and Black Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha,
[00:06:22.630]it was University of Omaha founded in 1908
[00:06:26.480]and then became the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1968.
[00:06:33.420]And still a lot of tough times and over that period of time,
[00:06:37.060]we've had strained police community relations
[00:06:39.840]that we continue to read about.
[00:06:43.120]There's always been a fear of too many African Americans
[00:06:46.270]moving from Omaha, especially the migration from the south.
[00:06:50.440]We've had strikes and employment disputes,
[00:06:54.260]especially with the railroad and meat processing facilities.
[00:06:57.860]And we've had continued agitation from the N Double ACP,
[00:07:02.390]the Urban League and many of the social clubs.
[00:07:05.080]In studying the social clubs,
[00:07:06.860]Mr. Ewing probably has done this.
[00:07:08.890]You would think, why do they need so many social clubs?
[00:07:11.820]But these social clubs were not just social,
[00:07:14.380]they were also political and very activist clubs.
[00:07:18.760]And we received national attention
[00:07:22.050]a couple of times in Omaha.
[00:07:24.360]I think few people know that when the federal courts
[00:07:27.810]were looking at Topeka versus the Board of Education,
[00:07:30.940]part of the venue was heard in Omaha,
[00:07:33.710]they had to move the venue,
[00:07:35.020]Omaha was picked and that was in 1954.
[00:07:38.210]And then when Martin Luther King came
[00:07:40.310]to make an appearance at the Baptist Convention,
[00:07:43.240]thousands of individuals descended upon Omaha,
[00:07:46.770]especially African Americans from the entire region
[00:07:49.580]because they wanted to meet and hear and talk.
[00:07:54.090]If you talk to..
[00:07:55.440]And I guess I can call them old timers
[00:07:57.580]in the city of Omaha about agitation,
[00:08:00.680]the Peony Park swimming pool protest
[00:08:03.090]is something that has captured the attention
[00:08:06.350]of those in their '80s, '90s, '70s, '60s,
[00:08:11.570]they're all talking about it.
[00:08:14.220]But a lightning point in Omaha
[00:08:17.180]was just the murder of Vivian Strong by the Omaha police.
[00:08:21.790]And this set off three days of civil unrest.
[00:08:25.860]And my husband always says it wasn't a riot,
[00:08:29.810]it's civil unrest and civil disobedience.
[00:08:34.350]And we've seen also boycotting
[00:08:38.520]and talking about agitation and tough times.
[00:08:42.020]The Martin DePorres Club
[00:08:43.480]was very important in the support of African Americans
[00:08:49.529]and pushing equality forward in the NAACP.
[00:08:55.103]Another lightning rod was fear of the Black Panther Party,
[00:09:00.730]but many individuals when we used to hear Black Panthers,
[00:09:04.700]individuals were somewhat fearful,
[00:09:07.300]but what this group actually did,
[00:09:09.870]they were there helping to protect the community
[00:09:13.070]and were there too for social support in the community.
[00:09:18.270]And then in 1973,
[00:09:20.680]the segregation of the Omaha Public School's lawsuit.
[00:09:28.961]Another lightning round for the community
[00:09:31.780]to say that segregation had been going on for so long,
[00:09:35.660]but now the feds were going to be involved
[00:09:38.590]and you had to have a federal suit in order to push
[00:09:42.250]the Omaha Public School District forward.
[00:09:45.410]And so we've come to the onslaught now,
[00:09:49.220]and I can say some things about the community onslaught,
[00:09:53.460]but Dr. Robinson who really is the expert
[00:09:56.930]in Black Studies will be able to tell us more
[00:10:00.160]because we saw like be 64 to 68
[00:10:03.890]major meat packing plants closing.
[00:10:06.730]And also during the same time
[00:10:08.360]there were reports that OPS realized they needed to do more.
[00:10:12.960]And with their report, they said,
[00:10:15.960]we really would like to do a better job
[00:10:17.910]integrating the schools, but before we do that,
[00:10:20.730]let's bring in some African American teachers.
[00:10:23.210]And so they started looking for teachers
[00:10:25.340]in the South to bring in.
[00:10:27.620]And in 1966, that near north site
[00:10:30.990]officially deemed blighted.
[00:10:33.350]And although I've got redlining here,
[00:10:35.440]redlining have been occurring,
[00:10:38.240]since the '40s or even the '30s,
[00:10:41.320]making certain that the community
[00:10:43.810]where you had a high concentration of African Americans,
[00:10:47.690]that the hope they couldn't get housing
[00:10:50.170]to either fix up their homes
[00:10:51.770]or even purchase their homes or businesses.
[00:10:55.550]And then that infamous North Omaha Freeway
[00:10:58.720]that displaced 2000 homes and businesses
[00:11:03.410]that separated the community in two parts.
[00:11:06.710]I've been in libraries with individuals from New Hampshire
[00:11:11.300]and Virginia studying this and saying, how could this occur?
[00:11:16.950]Why did it happen?
[00:11:19.190]It was just one of those onslaughts from the universe,
[00:11:23.350]from not just the university,
[00:11:24.650]but from the community in general.
[00:11:27.950]And in 2000, we've seen a lot of...
[00:11:31.519]Supposedly rebuilding projects,
[00:11:34.490]but we've also seen a resegregation of our schools
[00:11:38.180]and a resegregation of our housing.
[00:11:40.670]And I should point out on the education side that,
[00:11:44.460]in 1968, which we may not hear much about,
[00:11:47.760]Central High School students had a demonstration
[00:11:50.610]and a protest and had a number of demands.
[00:11:54.620]And so this was a period where
[00:11:56.710]not only did the 1969 forward this, the Omaha 54...
[00:12:03.953]And I think they're doing a presentation this afternoon,
[00:12:08.280]but young students and college students were saying,
[00:12:12.370]we have enough of this.
[00:12:14.270]And so like in 1971,
[00:12:17.640]Black Studies was organized at the university.
[00:12:24.340]And thank you for that Dr. Hewins Maroney,
[00:12:26.500]that's the backstory, I always wondered
[00:12:28.670]how could there be a Department
[00:12:30.100]of Black Studies in Omaha Nebraska?
[00:12:32.750]We are one of the few departments
[00:12:36.060]that is still a department in the US.
[00:12:40.800]And we're one of the oldest Departments of Black Studies
[00:12:44.180]having been founded in the late '60s and started in 1971.
[00:12:49.130]And so of course, I keep saying that Black Studies at UNO
[00:12:53.980]is a microcosm of the Black Community in Omaha.
[00:12:57.580]And so a lot of things grew out of a fight.
[00:13:01.310]And so Dr. Hewins Maroney you've already talked
[00:13:04.180]about the long struggle, the long fight,
[00:13:06.640]leading up to 1969, no Black Studies courses,
[00:13:12.060]which we already know,
[00:13:13.150]no acknowledgement of African history;
[00:13:17.040]African American history.
[00:13:19.480]No acknowledgement of African origins
[00:13:23.570]of all kinds of different things.
[00:13:25.127]And so students said, no, we want Black Studies courses.
[00:13:28.700]And we want them at this university that we pay tuition at,
[00:13:32.290]and this is where we want them.
[00:13:33.820]And so they did a sit in in 1969 after talking about,
[00:13:37.610]thinking that there were going to be things
[00:13:39.420]that were gonna be different
[00:13:40.820]and just being dogged out in a lot of different ways.
[00:13:43.740]And so I went to talk to the president
[00:13:47.100]and ended up doing a sit-in.
[00:13:49.070]And I think it was just a couple of hours later,
[00:13:52.620]54 of these students, all 54 of them were arrested.
[00:13:56.070]And I think they just spent maybe a couple of hours in jail,
[00:13:59.240]but they had to get bailed out
[00:14:00.490]and it was the NAACP that bailed them out.
[00:14:03.380]And that was 1971,
[00:14:07.090]but 2021 weeks we just celebrated 50 years,
[00:14:11.110]but honestly from 1971 to 2022, from that day to this day,
[00:14:16.340]it is still a fight, it is still a fight.
[00:14:18.850]So I came to this campus in 1991,
[00:14:21.520]specifically two major in Black Studies.
[00:14:24.460]Somebody had told me in the 80s,
[00:14:26.170]hey, they got this thing at UNO called Black Studies.
[00:14:29.460]And I had never heard of Black Studies,
[00:14:31.420]but I was really interested in black history.
[00:14:34.360]And so I came, I was like, okay, I'll major in Black Studies
[00:14:36.363]and I'm a Goodrich Scholar.
[00:14:38.430]And so I was encouraged to double major;
[00:14:41.860]I'm gonna double major.
[00:14:43.220]So I doubled majored in communication
[00:14:44.870]and broadcasting and Black Studies.
[00:14:46.980]That was 1991, and so that was 31 years ago.
[00:14:52.310]When I came here in 1991, I did not know the history
[00:14:56.790]of the Black Studies Department because it was not taught,
[00:14:59.730]it wasn't told that there had been an Omaha 54.
[00:15:03.400]I didn't know any of that.
[00:15:04.680]I would say until maybe within the last 10 years,
[00:15:07.243]that there were really people
[00:15:08.540]who really went to jail for this.
[00:15:10.450]But what I can tell you, when I came in 1991,
[00:15:16.310]it was a divided department, Africans and African Americans,
[00:15:20.230]and Africans had tenure, African Americans did not.
[00:15:25.370]I again majored in Black Studies,
[00:15:29.200]not a single course was taught by a woman.
[00:15:33.270]I did not have not one single female instructor
[00:15:37.900]in four years of taking Black Studies courses,
[00:15:41.640]which is quite interesting.
[00:15:43.970]So this is 1991, I graduated in '95
[00:15:47.940]and there's a lot of change,
[00:15:50.050]but it's just a lot of infighting that you see,
[00:15:52.340]a lot of infighting, the faculty fighting each other.
[00:15:55.500]And one main theme is that I noticed that the Black Studies
[00:16:00.770]is connected to the community, not to the university.
[00:16:06.750]It seemed to me that the university did not support
[00:16:09.820]the Department of Black Studies, I thought that in 1991,
[00:16:14.040]I could see that and students were kind of told,
[00:16:17.620]what are you gonna do with a degree in Black Studies?
[00:16:19.460]Why would you major in Black Studies?
[00:16:21.360]I think there were two people,
[00:16:23.970]I was one of two people that I knew
[00:16:26.740]who majored in Black Studies.
[00:16:28.110]And this is because we were just kind of told
[00:16:31.300]Black Studies is nothing and don't really major in it,
[00:16:33.750]go over here, do this over here.
[00:16:35.840]And so the department, it reminded me of,
[00:16:39.460]I'm from North Omaha and it was divested out of,
[00:16:45.240]it was not supported.
[00:16:46.980]And one thing that was constantly done
[00:16:48.790]is a huge turnover in chairs.
[00:16:51.140]So that's what I saw coming in 1990,
[00:16:54.030]when I think, so I've been chair since 2015,
[00:16:58.450]I wanna say I'm the 21st chair, something like that.
[00:17:01.980]But again, I think I'm not interim,
[00:17:05.889]and I was interim chair as well,
[00:17:07.060]but I think I'm only one of two chairs that have been women.
[00:17:11.530]So there's all this stuff going on in blacks studies,
[00:17:14.550]still students like me want to take these courses.
[00:17:17.790]And so we take these courses and we learn this information
[00:17:21.210]and we take it out into the community and we do,
[00:17:24.350]and then the community comes back and says, yes,
[00:17:26.450]black study is wonderful, don't give up on Black Studies.
[00:17:29.630]But the university has not supported
[00:17:33.490]the Department of Black Studies.
[00:17:34.850]The University of Nebraska at Omaha,
[00:17:37.750]on which this campus is housed, does not have a history
[00:17:42.700]of supporting this department for 50 years.
[00:17:46.510]And so it's been a fight,
[00:17:49.780]and that is what really has happened.
[00:17:50.790]And so what you see is a lot of infighting,
[00:17:53.510]people suing each other maybe,
[00:17:56.400]one of the big things is that,
[00:17:58.070]chairs would come in through a national search.
[00:18:01.420]So now you're from someplace else,
[00:18:02.800]let's say Atlanta, New York, LA,
[00:18:07.340]wherever you're from, there's only one Omaha at Nebraska.
[00:18:10.600]So you're like what, what's going on here?
[00:18:13.460]There's no support, you don't know the people,
[00:18:16.080]the university is not really supporting,
[00:18:18.380]even though they might support you,
[00:18:20.120]they're not really supporting the department.
[00:18:22.060]And so you see that as an outsider
[00:18:24.450]and then you become frustrated and what do you do?
[00:18:27.690]Am I gonna stay?
[00:18:29.520]No, I can leave and go someplace else.
[00:18:31.390]And so a high turnover of chairs,
[00:18:33.900]a high turnover of faculty for the same reason.
[00:18:37.890]And we just had a program review in 2019
[00:18:40.377]and I wrote that in program review this is really a problem.
[00:18:45.470]Besides that, I will tell you who wants Black Studies,
[00:18:48.907]the students at this university want Black Studies.
[00:18:53.430]The students wanna take Black Studies courses,
[00:18:55.520]they wanna major or minor in Black Studies.
[00:18:58.040]They want to be exposed to this information.
[00:19:00.980]And so that is why Black Studies is so very very important
[00:19:05.657]and the community knows that, and so then they fight
[00:19:09.420]to keep a Black Studies department.
[00:19:11.410]I have been told that by long time community members,
[00:19:17.290]some of our elders in the community,
[00:19:19.900]that every time a new chancellor comes,
[00:19:22.250]community people meet with the chancellor to say,
[00:19:25.300]please tell us that you are not going to try
[00:19:27.090]to change this department into a program.
[00:19:30.390]Please tell us that you are not gonna try
[00:19:32.100]to get rid of Black Studies,
[00:19:33.700]we want you to know the importance of Black Studies.
[00:19:36.100]And I'm just trying to think of any other department
[00:19:39.130]on this campus that every time a new chancellor comes,
[00:19:43.560]we have to then go to the chancellor to say,
[00:19:45.540]please don't get rid of us.
[00:19:48.110]And so again, we have made it to 50 years,
[00:19:50.600]I've got my 50, year T-shirt,
[00:19:52.470]I've also got a 50 year mask
[00:19:55.280]that matches my 50 year T-shirt.
[00:19:58.060]I am quite proud of what Black Studies is
[00:20:01.550]as a discipline, it is necessary.
[00:20:04.000]And I'm quite proud of the Department of Black Studies
[00:20:06.750]here at UNO that has made it through
[00:20:10.440]despite the turmoil, despite the vitriol,
[00:20:13.980]despite the racism,
[00:20:15.560]we are still here and we are fighting for those students
[00:20:19.530]in this community that wants us and needs us here.
[00:20:23.210]So this is what I really really love.
[00:20:26.010]All of this has an impact on how people see Black Studies.
[00:20:29.770]It has an impact on how Black Studies is seen,
[00:20:33.610]is it a viable discipline?
[00:20:35.200]Why would you major in Black Studies? ,
[00:20:37.580]Courses are gonna be canceled, it's not a stable department,
[00:20:42.560]but it is a stable department,
[00:20:44.600]just like the black community is stable.
[00:20:47.110]Despite trying to be destabilized,
[00:20:50.720]the black community is stable
[00:20:52.240]and has been stable for centuries.
[00:20:55.430]And so that is how I want us to look
[00:20:57.140]at the Department of Black Studies.
[00:20:59.400]Black Studies is different than ethnic studies
[00:21:01.870]and cultural studies,
[00:21:03.310]but because of the fight of the Department of Black Studies,
[00:21:06.170]because of the Omaha 54,
[00:21:08.300]because of being able to get Black Studies on this campus,
[00:21:11.750]this is why you have all women's studies,
[00:21:14.410]this is why you have all years,
[00:21:15.580]this is why you have native studies.
[00:21:18.390]I believe ethnic studies was kind of started,
[00:21:20.300]I wanna say around the same time
[00:21:22.330]as Black Studies here at UNO, ethnic studies at UNL,
[00:21:25.910]I think was started at around that same time.
[00:21:28.660]Again, the students want this
[00:21:31.500]and they want this information.
[00:21:33.530]I have been teaching in the school of communication
[00:21:36.090]since 2000 and I used to teach a course
[00:21:38.610]called Intercultural Communication,
[00:21:40.450]which was cross listed with education.
[00:21:42.750]I take my Black Studies self wherever I go.
[00:21:45.470]So I'm still sharing this same kind of knowledge,
[00:21:48.120]education majors are like what!
[00:21:50.440]You mean to tell me this happened?
[00:21:52.230]I had no idea, why wasn't I told this?
[00:21:54.710]Because that information
[00:21:55.920]is not being taught in other classes.
[00:21:58.140]So that is the importance of Black Studies.
[00:22:00.910]And even though people would like to try to act as though
[00:22:03.630]it's not a viable discipline, it most certainly is.
[00:22:07.500]And I would like for people to go,
[00:22:09.490]we are celebrating all year,
[00:22:12.500]we have our wonderful coordinator, Deborah Heard,
[00:22:15.290]who has been facilitating all of these wonderful webinars
[00:22:19.300]that is on our website,
[00:22:22.491]UNO Black Studies, College of Arts and Sciences website,
[00:22:25.380]and also on our YouTube page, our YouTube site,
[00:22:29.270]and go and see all of these wonderful webinars.
[00:22:31.750]Well, one of 'em is from Dr. Marten Baby,
[00:22:34.160]and he talks about the importance of Black Studies,
[00:22:36.810]he's outta Harvard University and he also teaches a course
[00:22:39.700]and should have the conversation for us.
[00:22:41.920]He talks about the importance of Black Studies.
[00:22:44.230]And one point he makes is,
[00:22:46.083]it's like I have taught at least a thousand
[00:22:52.130]Black Studies majors
[00:22:53.840]and they're not in the unemployment line,
[00:22:56.030]they're not standing in the unemployment line.
[00:22:58.240]So Black Studies is a big thing, a huge, important thing
[00:23:02.450]and I'm glad that we are having this discussion today.
[00:23:07.269]And I think that's also important.
[00:23:09.360]When Dr. Robinson and I were talking,
[00:23:13.350]she made the point, is that Black Studies department
[00:23:17.430]is connected to the community,
[00:23:20.880]but really somewhat isolated from the university.
[00:23:25.140]Connected to the community
[00:23:27.460]but isolated from the university,
[00:23:30.940]because if you saw in the previous slide,
[00:23:34.130]there have been a number of threats.
[00:23:36.350]At one point in time, there was a discussion
[00:23:39.890]and actually was more than a discussion,
[00:23:42.380]let's just get rid of Black Studies department.
[00:23:46.330]And even the chair at that point in time
[00:23:50.180]supported the elimination of Black Studies department.
[00:23:54.030]And it was the community that came forth and said,
[00:23:57.690]no, Black Studies will have to stay.
[00:24:02.590]And then the suggestions were,
[00:24:04.950]we have a Black Studies department,
[00:24:06.590]but we don't have a native American studies department,
[00:24:09.200]or we don't have a gender studies department,
[00:24:11.100]let's just put all of those together.
[00:24:13.000]And when she mentioned ethnic and cultural studies,
[00:24:16.210]that's one of the ploys that's used to sort of dismiss
[00:24:20.600]the importance of having a Black Studies program
[00:24:24.440]at the university.
[00:24:25.900]But for those of you who may not know
[00:24:28.630]about how education administration works,
[00:24:32.870]a department is stronger and more viable than a program.
[00:24:40.720]Stronger and more viable than a program,
[00:24:43.910]so when you hear these suggestions of,
[00:24:47.150]let's have ethnic studies,
[00:24:49.781]not have a Black Studies department,
[00:24:52.290]it's a way of lessening the impact of Black Studies
[00:24:56.220]and saying, well, we wanna put you on a different plane.
[00:25:01.880]We don't wanna share the same kind of resources
[00:25:05.140]with you that we do with the sociology department
[00:25:09.100]or a math department, we want to...
[00:25:12.650]What do they say?
[00:25:13.840]Have those groups, those so-called minor groups,
[00:25:18.090]have them fight over the leavings,
[00:25:21.610]what else is left over from the budget.
[00:25:27.320]So, we would like for you to remember
[00:25:30.600]that the Black Studies department,
[00:25:33.360]it's really a part of the community
[00:25:35.330]and Black Studies is here because of the community.
[00:25:39.170]But the university over time has showed
[00:25:42.260]that there's a great deal of isolation.
[00:25:47.000]These are some other points that Cynthia has brought out
[00:25:52.460]because during a period of time, faculty were hired,
[00:25:56.730]who really had no interest in Black Studies
[00:25:59.347]and the survival and development of Black Studies at all.
[00:26:04.440]They would just bring in individuals
[00:26:07.300]who didn't have a background in Black Studies,
[00:26:10.720]had not talked Black Studies.
[00:26:13.800]My husband, Michael Maroney laughs and said,
[00:26:16.650]during the early days when they were asking
[00:26:18.960]for an African American history class at UNO,
[00:26:21.920]they sent a faculty member out to the East
[00:26:25.080]and took a two week course in black history
[00:26:27.040]to come back and teach.
[00:26:28.841]Yeah, and I can see that.
[00:26:30.910]I think I had some of those instructors,
[00:26:33.680]most of the instructors were adjuncts
[00:26:35.380]when I was an undergrad.
[00:26:36.500]I graduated again, I was Black Studies mentioned 91 to 95.
[00:26:41.700]But as a chair,
[00:26:45.740]one of the things that I wrote
[00:26:47.050]when we did our program review
[00:26:48.520]is what has happened is exactly what you said,
[00:26:51.117]Dr. Hewins Maroney is,
[00:26:53.390]my area is math,
[00:26:55.400]but the math department is not hiring black people today.
[00:26:58.720]So go to Black Studies.
[00:27:00.960]So now I'm mad, but I have to teach intro to Black Studies
[00:27:04.350]and I might want to teach intro to Black Studies, but I mad.
[00:27:08.330]So really I mad.
[00:27:10.570]So I might then resent that I have to teach intro
[00:27:15.330]to Black Studies because I'm mad.
[00:27:17.490]So I might not ever get connected
[00:27:19.970]to the Black Studies department because I'm mad.
[00:27:23.925]Here's all these kinds of things.
[00:27:24.910]And that is what has been going on for years
[00:27:27.480]and years and years.
[00:27:28.770]And I really remember, honestly, under Robert Christman,
[00:27:32.320]he's the one who started the Malcolm X festival.
[00:27:34.600]I think he came in 2000, 2001.
[00:27:38.570]He kind of made it his business
[00:27:40.930]to kind of do something different with that.
[00:27:43.180]Dr. Christman was here for five years.
[00:27:45.330]He as an individual, had the support of the university.
[00:27:50.120]So he was able to do some things.
[00:27:51.710]One of those things was created the Malcolm X festival.
[00:27:54.490]And he said he wanted to celebrate the community
[00:27:58.500]that produced parents, that produced the Malcolm X.
[00:28:02.400]And again, being from the outside,
[00:28:04.010]that's how the Malcolm X festival got started.
[00:28:06.570]But one of the things that he did also
[00:28:08.530]was wanted to make sure this department was scholarly.
[00:28:13.030]And so that people couldn't say that it wasn't scholarly,
[00:28:16.960]like to your point,
[00:28:17.793]someone goes and does a two week training
[00:28:19.770]and think they can come back.
[00:28:21.340]I had learned from being chair
[00:28:24.160]and I never saw it until I was chair.
[00:28:26.860]And then I began to say, oh,
[00:28:28.090]they do things to Black Studies
[00:28:29.243]that they would never do to other departments.
[00:28:32.800]I was a grad assistant with Goodrich.
[00:28:34.180]So not just a Goodrich Scholar,
[00:28:35.710]I was a grad assistant with Goodrich.
[00:28:37.460]I'm still connected to Goodrich.
[00:28:39.400]And again, I've been full-time
[00:28:41.280]and I'm tenured in the school of communication.
[00:28:43.830]And so I've been in communication since 2000
[00:28:47.020]and both of those bookings excellence.
[00:28:49.940]I have seen academic excellence.
[00:28:51.850]I have seen, both of those departments
[00:28:54.500]winning national awards.
[00:28:56.060]And so I'm in Black Studies and I'm like, we can do this.
[00:28:59.990]But what I didn't know is the top-down racism
[00:29:03.840]that leans on black study
[00:29:06.150]in a way that it doesn't mean on other departments.
[00:29:09.550]Now, Goodrich might be a victim of this as well,
[00:29:13.640]but it lean on Black Studies.
[00:29:15.247]And just imagine again,
[00:29:16.900]if I'm not from here and I see this is happening,
[00:29:20.900]what do you do?
[00:29:22.254]You get frustrated and you don't have allies
[00:29:26.370]'cause you're not from here.
[00:29:28.410]The contract is a three year contract.
[00:29:32.420]Is your contract gonna get renewed?
[00:29:34.360]It just depends on who's running
[00:29:35.960]the college of Arts and Sciences.
[00:29:37.650]All of this craziness that takes away from our majors
[00:29:42.740]and from our minors that hurts us.
[00:29:45.960]And we always have had the community that very quietly,
[00:29:51.900]even if we don't know it, oh no,
[00:29:54.020]y'all not gonna get rid of Black Studies.
[00:29:56.090]I think it was Vickey Parks who told me
[00:29:58.940]they had a meeting and threatened the chancellor
[00:30:03.480]at that time.
[00:30:04.313]I don't know when this was in the '80s,
[00:30:06.570]I suppose maybe late '70, early '80s
[00:30:09.610]that they were going to get the UNL football team,
[00:30:14.160]the black football players
[00:30:17.430]to align themselves with Black Studies.
[00:30:19.780]And they were going to get them to boycott
[00:30:22.450]if you try to get rid of Black Studies.
[00:30:24.577]And so that particular time that worked.
[00:30:27.810]And so they backed off of Black Studies.
[00:30:29.880]So there's this long history of it, of fighting it.
[00:30:33.560]And I said, when we turned 50 this year,
[00:30:35.573]when I turned 50, I'm 57,
[00:30:37.703]when I turned 50 my friends who were born in '64,
[00:30:41.280]we celebrated all year.
[00:30:42.490]We did something every single month.
[00:30:45.080]And so I said, let's celebrate all year.
[00:30:48.140]And we began our celebration, July 28th.
[00:30:52.120]I thought it very, very, very important
[00:30:54.640]to honor the Omaha 54.
[00:30:57.060]And I know we're doing the alumni panel
[00:30:58.863]for the Omaha 54 today, but I thought it very important
[00:31:02.650]to honor the Omaha 54
[00:31:04.560]because without that sacrifice actually going to jail
[00:31:08.150]and not knowing that they were going to go to jail,
[00:31:10.470]not really knowing like this could really happen.
[00:31:13.870]And who knows what happens after you go to jail?
[00:31:15.890]Like you gonna be there a day,
[00:31:17.840]10 days who knows what could happen,
[00:31:19.370]but doing that and making that sacrifice
[00:31:21.800]so that there could be Department of Black Studies
[00:31:24.750]just so that there could be Black Studies courses.
[00:31:27.130]We started off our 50th celebration
[00:31:29.840]by honoring them on July 28th.
[00:31:32.740]And so we have been doing stuff every single month.
[00:31:36.620]We are going to have a big party, April 29th.
[00:31:43.380]How out here in the Pep Bowl,
[00:31:44.970]Black Studies is going to be in the Juneteenth parade.
[00:31:48.000]But again, we wanna bring visibility and awareness,
[00:31:51.820]not just to the Department of Black Studies,
[00:31:54.840]but also to the discipline of Black Studies,
[00:31:57.070]to the importance of Black Studies.
[00:31:58.367]And we wanna say, we are here
[00:32:00.390]and this is important and come see us.
[00:32:04.566]I also wanna mention,
[00:32:06.080]since we have this PowerPoint app,
[00:32:09.890]the criticism of faculty in Black Studies
[00:32:13.640]spending too much time in the community,
[00:32:16.680]I think the university administration
[00:32:18.610]for a long period of time, didn't understand
[00:32:22.350]that if you're an African American
[00:32:24.430]or if you're other individuals,
[00:32:26.410]but your pant, you have a passion and a commitment
[00:32:29.900]to help explore African American studies
[00:32:33.400]and support African American studies.
[00:32:35.220]You will spend time in the community.
[00:32:38.380]And for those of you who are looking at maybe careers
[00:32:42.180]in academia and may wanna understand how academia works,
[00:32:47.670]it's publish or parish still.
[00:32:50.400]They want you to do service, they want you to do research.
[00:32:53.020]They want you to be the good teacher.
[00:32:55.010]And then when they say good service,
[00:32:56.960]if you spend time in the community,
[00:32:59.890]you can spend some time, but not too much time.
[00:33:03.800]And so for African American faculty for many years,
[00:33:07.700]if they were heavily involved in community organizations
[00:33:11.370]or social organizations or length their expertise
[00:33:16.240]to these groups, it was too much time.
[00:33:19.700]And they weren't working toward
[00:33:22.010]the tenure process at the university.
[00:33:25.120]And so that has been sort of,
[00:33:27.750]a negative rub has pushed really good faculty
[00:33:30.880]away from Black Studies
[00:33:32.940]to say I can't work in the community because,
[00:33:37.930]then the university will see,
[00:33:39.350]will think that I'm not really serious about my tenure
[00:33:44.280]and promotion at the institution.
[00:33:48.290]And so that's been an onslaught
[00:33:52.240]internally for the department.
[00:33:54.570]One that's been had,
[00:33:56.520]the department has had five within the college
[00:33:59.450]and within the university, just in general.
[00:34:04.060]And this also speaks to the isolation of the department
[00:34:07.823]because you certainly feel it on this campus,
[00:34:12.500]that it's not black people are against Black Studies,
[00:34:17.390]but they don't wanna be seen as too black,
[00:34:22.270]like too involved in Black Studies, not too black,
[00:34:24.810]but too involved in Black Studies or in the community,
[00:34:27.830]because this is a predominantly white institution
[00:34:31.750]in a predominantly White State,
[00:34:34.000]in a predominantly white part of the country, all of that.
[00:34:37.900]And it's very, very, red, it's a very, very red state.
[00:34:41.340]It's very conservative and all of that works against black.
[00:34:45.420]And again, I keep saying it's the black and Black Studies
[00:34:47.980]people have a problem with,
[00:34:50.690]if the department was called cultural studies
[00:34:53.760]or even ethnic studies,
[00:34:55.810]but this country
[00:34:56.643]has a long, long, long ugly anti-black issue.
[00:35:02.810]That is different than any other anti,
[00:35:05.210]as James ruined at sundown times talks about.
[00:35:07.960]It's just something about black people
[00:35:09.850]that America doesn't like.
[00:35:11.530]So Black Studies feels that on this campus,
[00:35:16.160]but I will tell you that,
[00:35:18.163]I think if it wasn't for those barriers,
[00:35:22.840]people would come towards us.
[00:35:24.040]Like, they're like, oh, wow, this is great.
[00:35:26.940]Students are like, oh my God, I did not know.
[00:35:29.830]I don't care students from small town, Nebraska
[00:35:32.550]that didn't have any black people growing up in their town.
[00:35:36.000]They're like, oh my God,
[00:35:36.900]I had no idea why wasn't I told this.
[00:35:38.917]And so people feel that it's just that
[00:35:41.040]we have to get over administration's issue
[00:35:45.970]and political issues with Black Studies.
[00:35:52.040]And we've talked about a lot of negativity
[00:35:56.580]and the onslaught is ongoing
[00:36:00.000]and we know that it's going to continue,
[00:36:02.830]but as African Americans, we are positive people.
[00:36:06.050]And if we weren't positive people,
[00:36:08.040]we would not have survived this long in this country.
[00:36:13.540]We are tenacious, we fight on.
[00:36:18.010]And I think because of our tenacity and what we do,
[00:36:22.710]it helps other groups.
[00:36:25.400]Absolutely does, yeah.
[00:36:27.670]And so, part of this symposium
[00:36:31.130]is looking at the reckoning and also looking at the future,
[00:36:34.960]where do we go from here?
[00:36:37.470]What do we want?
[00:36:38.720]And I think I'll let Dr. Robinson talk,
[00:36:43.180]and then I'll say something about the community.
[00:36:45.090]And then we will probably take some questions.
[00:36:49.340]Well, one thing is we have these T-shirts,
[00:36:54.380]I don't know what this is.
[00:36:55.460]Our fifth or sixth T-shirt, we have lots of T-shirts
[00:36:59.598]and we plan to get some new ones for Juneteenth,
[00:37:02.240]where I got the idea of T-shirts is,
[00:37:04.360]I am one of the co-founders and longtime member
[00:37:09.050]of old school drill team.
[00:37:10.700]I also started stepping recently with Midwest steppers.
[00:37:13.880]I got T-shirts old school drill team and a hoodie,
[00:37:16.620]old school drill team,
[00:37:17.510]I got three T-shirts with Midwest steppers,
[00:37:20.150]and haven't even been stepping that long.
[00:37:22.430]I know this is marketing, this is marketing.
[00:37:26.360]I know that this mask is marketing, that's why we have them.
[00:37:31.020]And so we want people to know two things.
[00:37:33.860]Number one, there is Black Studies,
[00:37:37.030]but also number two is at UNO, come to UNO
[00:37:41.998]to major in Black Studies.
[00:37:43.960]And so that is to encourage majors and minors,
[00:37:49.650]I have been trying to spread the word across campus.
[00:37:53.750]This is a discipline like History, like English,
[00:37:59.400]and we're cross listing with those departments by the way.
[00:38:03.100]You can major in Black Studies,
[00:38:05.100]you can double major in Black Studies and something else.
[00:38:07.860]Like I double majored in Black Studies and communication,
[00:38:11.800]but it's very, very important because this is a university.
[00:38:16.160]So we want to do these things
[00:38:18.490]to create increased visibility and awareness.
[00:38:21.980]That's why we have been in,
[00:38:24.100]I wanna say every parade since 2017, the Juneteenth parades,
[00:38:30.350]and also Omaha day parades.
[00:38:32.460]I think last Omaha day,
[00:38:34.290]I think we had 10 people in the parade.
[00:38:37.440]It wasn't very many people, but we were still in the parade,
[00:38:40.770]Mona Lisa King-Ward and her family was part of that too.
[00:38:44.190]And Mona Lisa is a alum of UNO
[00:38:47.210]long-time employee of UNO,
[00:38:49.900]and her and her family we're marching down the street
[00:38:52.540]with a few students.
[00:38:53.810]And we're saying Black Studies is 50,
[00:38:56.660]Black Studies that you would know,
[00:38:58.240]this is to bring awareness and visibility.
[00:39:00.770]So we're trying to now bring the university
[00:39:03.870]to the community,
[00:39:05.410]the community that has supported
[00:39:07.020]the Department of Black Studies for 50 years,
[00:39:09.490]we want to embrace that community.
[00:39:11.677]And we want them to know
[00:39:13.480]this is your Department of Black Studies.
[00:39:15.610]I think I had told your husband, Mr. Maroney,
[00:39:20.120]this is your Department of Black Studies,
[00:39:22.180]because you will know, has been how it is to Black Studies.
[00:39:25.970]And it doesn't encourage alumni to come back.
[00:39:29.640]It doesn't encourage that.
[00:39:31.200]And so we want to change that,
[00:39:34.970]we of course are going to continue to fight,
[00:39:36.780]to remain a department,
[00:39:38.900]but I will tell you for 30 years,
[00:39:41.570]I have heard you should be a program.
[00:39:44.547]And I think the last time I had that discussion was in 2021.
[00:39:48.330]So that's just last year and that's just crazy.
[00:39:51.980]It's just crazy to me.
[00:39:53.230]So there's so many different things.
[00:39:56.040]And you again, have been watching any of the webinars.
[00:39:58.560]If you haven't, they are all recorded all on our website.
[00:40:01.650]So many different aspects to Black Studies.
[00:40:04.860]We are not gonna let white supremacy scare us away
[00:40:08.890]from the discipline of Black Studies.
[00:40:11.850]And I think also at this point in time,
[00:40:14.830]you come to a crossroads and that things need to change.
[00:40:18.910]And I think we're at a crossroads now,
[00:40:21.210]because one of our folkie at the university,
[00:40:25.910]especially among faculty of African American descent,
[00:40:29.440]is that we wanna take the university to the community.
[00:40:33.420]When we have meetings,
[00:40:34.730]this is something that comes up over and over again.
[00:40:38.350]The university needs to have a greater presence
[00:40:41.670]in the north side,
[00:40:43.330]the African American community in Omaha.
[00:40:47.410]And I think with the kind of support
[00:40:52.230]that we have just internally with each other,
[00:40:55.280]and from also groups on the outside that will happen,
[00:41:00.320]we have a new chair,
[00:41:02.820]or I guess director of the School of Social Work coming in,
[00:41:06.370]in the fall.
[00:41:07.660]And during his interviews,
[00:41:10.640]one of the things he said is,
[00:41:12.550]why isn't the university out in the community?
[00:41:16.970]And I think he's going to really push
[00:41:19.410]that a along with the help of all the others
[00:41:23.550]that we have on campus site.
[00:41:25.460]It's time because when I came here 30, 40 years ago,
[00:41:30.440]we used to have a presence in North Omaha,
[00:41:34.050]and it was closed
[00:41:35.090]because they said it really wasn't necessary,
[00:41:40.930]And so from a community perspective,
[00:41:43.210]looking toward the future, what do we want?
[00:41:45.700]We want equity, fairness,
[00:41:47.760]and we want equality and equality across the board.
[00:41:51.340]We want equality with jobs, we want a quality with housing.
[00:41:55.530]We want housing that's affordable.
[00:41:57.570]We want housing that's market rate.
[00:41:59.640]We want services too.
[00:42:02.320]And those services should be located
[00:42:04.810]that are accessible to us
[00:42:07.050]Why do I have to drive to 200 street or 180 fifth street,
[00:42:12.410]just for simple services to give for even car repair.
[00:42:16.560]And of course we want education.
[00:42:18.970]We want our schools to be top notch.
[00:42:22.600]And one of the excuses we continually hear,
[00:42:27.740]and it's probably somewhat legitimate
[00:42:30.020]is that the pandemic has hurt
[00:42:32.160]a lot of the educational expertise
[00:42:35.610]and acumen of our students,
[00:42:37.510]but what's been happening in education
[00:42:41.350]in the city of Omaha for African American students.
[00:42:43.800]It has been on the decline for years.
[00:42:46.490]It's time to be short up, turned around.
[00:42:50.680]We need teachers, we need counsel.
[00:42:54.270]We need therapists, we need more people,
[00:42:57.630]even in the school system,
[00:42:59.570]and we need more African Americans in secondary education.
[00:43:03.640]And we also need equitable healthcare.
[00:43:06.390]I've just been appalled during the pandemic of the reports
[00:43:10.680]of looking at the incidence of who was getting,
[00:43:17.730]who the deaths and the healthcare,
[00:43:22.170]and with African Americans being so severely affected,
[00:43:25.560]they seldom ever mentioned us in the media.
[00:43:30.473]And we were the ones being hospitalized.
[00:43:32.130]We were the ones being who were dying.
[00:43:34.560]We need equity, we need equality
[00:43:37.610]and equitable distribution of these funds,
[00:43:42.110]federal and state funds.
[00:43:43.940]And I'm sort of proud of our two state legislators
[00:43:47.250]for fighting to get monies
[00:43:49.860]for the support of North Omaha and all people,
[00:43:54.580]not just in North and South Omaha,
[00:43:56.160]but across the state and across the metro area
[00:44:00.570]need to support that.
[00:44:02.410]And we need stopping harassment,
[00:44:05.120]stopping any kind of mistreatment,
[00:44:08.040]stopping any kind of discrimination in kinds of services.
[00:44:12.510]And especially from public officials or public employees,
[00:44:16.080]it shouldn't have happen.
[00:44:17.400]And even if they're not public private employ,
[00:44:21.470]we as a community should not be treated that way.
[00:44:26.630]And when it comes to the media, that's another one of,
[00:44:30.280]at least it's one of my areas
[00:44:33.330]that really needs to be addressed.
[00:44:36.190]We need fair reporting and representation in the media.
[00:44:42.650]And we're talking about...
[00:44:44.340]oh, go ahead.
[00:44:45.173]No, go ahead, Sue.
[00:44:46.625]When I see your point about respect
[00:44:48.900]for North Omaha residents and community,
[00:44:52.440]we need respect for black faculty,
[00:44:56.540]students and staff or you will loose campus.
[00:45:00.780]We need more black faculty,
[00:45:04.440]students and staff or you will loose campus.
[00:45:06.850]So what we need in...
[00:45:08.150]And I said this Black Studies is a microcosm of black Omaha.
[00:45:13.540]What we need in the community,
[00:45:15.090]we also need that here at UNO.
[00:45:17.000]And in fact, I think that those two can work together
[00:45:20.350]to build up each other.
[00:45:22.350]The university can help with the community
[00:45:25.350]and the community can help with the university.
[00:45:27.910]And so we just need to respect the black
[00:45:33.677]and black that's the new T-shirt, respect the black.
[00:45:37.540]Okay, go ahead.
[00:45:38.460]Okay, I think we're probably at that juncture
[00:45:42.950]where we'll take some questions
[00:45:46.140]and comments from those of you who have joined us
[00:45:49.740]and from our facilitator.
[00:45:51.330]And we wanna thank you this afternoon
[00:45:53.640]for letting us speak and share some of our thoughts.
[00:45:56.920]Yeah, thank you very much.
[00:45:58.290]Appreciate it, very well done.
[00:46:01.990]One thing I like to share,
[00:46:03.350]although I didn't get my undergrad degree from UNO,
[00:46:06.130]I did attend UNO for period
[00:46:09.080]when I first got outta high school.
[00:46:11.500]And one of the classes I took as a freshman
[00:46:14.870]was a Black Studies course.
[00:46:17.210]And that course in that three months timeframe,
[00:46:21.060]I learned more about black history
[00:46:24.690]than I did my whole K through 12 system.
[00:46:28.670]So to me I understand,
[00:46:31.950]I see the importance
[00:46:33.770]of how having a Black Studies department,
[00:46:35.840]because it does teach you about the history
[00:46:38.940]that as some people will say,
[00:46:40.850]that's been invisible throughout history.
[00:46:44.910]And so I myself personally think
[00:46:47.730]there is a great need for it.
[00:46:49.500]And I wish if I could be around
[00:46:54.002]for the hundredth anniversary.
[00:46:58.860]Well, now we'll open up to folks.
[00:47:00.530]If you have any questions that you'd like to ask
[00:47:04.220]our doctors here,
[00:47:05.180]and then feel free to either put in the chat
[00:47:07.650]or unmute yourself and ask your question.
[00:47:12.460]I also wanna say,
[00:47:13.293]while we're waiting for a question
[00:47:14.550]that I see Dr. Jennifer Harbour,
[00:47:16.140]who is a colleague in the department,
[00:47:18.960]she is also on this call,
[00:47:20.960]Dr. Harbor, I'm not gonna ask you to speak,
[00:47:23.360]but she can also speak to,
[00:47:26.320]or she has also witnessed a lot of the things
[00:47:28.910]that we're saying, like what you just said Mr. Ewing,
[00:47:31.700]that you learned so much.
[00:47:34.320]I guarantee you,
[00:47:36.320]she also like myself has had students
[00:47:38.482]that have been like, what?
[00:47:40.050]Like, why wasn't I taught this in 10th grade?
[00:47:42.950]Why do I have to take a Black Studies class
[00:47:45.120]to even learn this stuff?
[00:47:46.760]And the reason why it's the same reason
[00:47:48.550]why there is a Department of Black Studies,
[00:47:50.650]why the discipline of Black Studies
[00:47:52.500]had to be created in the first place,
[00:47:54.690]why there is a Negro History Week that was created,
[00:47:58.310]that turned into black history month for the same reason,
[00:48:01.260]it's the exact same thing.
[00:48:02.410]It's like, we just don't wanna teach that history.
[00:48:05.883]When we don't teach that history,
[00:48:08.140]we remain ignorant of that history and it hurts us.
[00:48:12.460]It hurts the country, it hurts our communities.
[00:48:15.300]It hurts individuals.
[00:48:18.026]Dylann Roof, I don't know if you guys remember who that is,
[00:48:21.670]but he was a guy that killed those nine people
[00:48:25.050]at the church in South Carolina.
[00:48:28.240]He wrote something before he did that.
[00:48:31.550]He said that,
[00:48:33.670]and I will never forget reading this that he said,
[00:48:37.420]if I believed that black people are treated wrongly,
[00:48:43.150]have been treated unfairly,
[00:48:45.230]I would feel different about black people.
[00:48:48.165]I would have a different perspective of them.
[00:48:51.770]But because I know that they're just complaining
[00:48:54.480]and they've been given everything.
[00:48:56.700]I don't understand why they don't love the country.
[00:48:59.790]He's mis educated.
[00:49:01.840]So I go back to a quote from Louis Faron.
[00:49:06.450]He said this on the Donahue Show 30 years ago,
[00:49:10.420]he said, if white people understood black history,
[00:49:14.400]they would respect black people more.
[00:49:16.950]If black people understood black history,
[00:49:19.240]we would respect each other more.
[00:49:21.420]So that's why the discipline
[00:49:23.100]of Black Studies is so important.
[00:49:25.400]But also for black,
[00:49:26.460]I just wanna say something about Black Studies.
[00:49:29.450]We think about Black Studies
[00:49:31.960]and we well first think about black history,
[00:49:35.560]but Black Studies is so much more than just the history.
[00:49:39.500]Because if you take a Black Studies class,
[00:49:41.950]you're going to learn about literature.
[00:49:44.270]You're gonna learn about writing.
[00:49:46.330]You're gonna learn about the great poets that we have.
[00:49:49.170]You will learn about the kinds of music,
[00:49:51.920]and why our music has been replicated all over the world.
[00:49:56.970]And then others take claim to the music
[00:49:59.640]that African Americans start,
[00:50:02.110]that started with things that we originated.
[00:50:05.290]And so for Black Studies, there's a black aesthetic.
[00:50:08.750]And that aesthetic is more than history.
[00:50:11.360]It's art, it music, it's literature, it's philosophy.
[00:50:17.240]And those things come about because of Black Studies.
[00:50:20.660]And if we didn't have a Black Studies department,
[00:50:23.300]a lot of that would die.
[00:50:25.160]I can guarantee you Dr. Hewins Maroney,
[00:50:27.730]every single thing you've just said, all those different,
[00:50:31.750]what Black Studies, you can go to our website,
[00:50:35.330]people who are listening can go to our department website,
[00:50:38.880]and you will find a webinar on each one of those
[00:50:42.090]that has just been done in the last year,
[00:50:44.350]since we've been celebrating,
[00:50:45.810]just showing the diversity of Black Studies.
[00:50:51.420]And Dr. Maroney, I believe your husband
[00:50:56.190]has something to do largely
[00:50:58.100]with the Black Studies department.
[00:50:59.560]Do you care to kind of mention his impact
[00:51:02.700]on Black Studies department?
[00:51:04.360]Well, he attended you and all back in the '60s,
[00:51:08.800]early '70s, and he was one of the Omaha 54.
[00:51:12.270]So he belonged to the African American student organization
[00:51:16.570]that went to...
[00:51:18.410]They started out with the dean,
[00:51:21.060]the dean of the college of Arts and Sciences,
[00:51:23.150]asking for a Black Studies department,
[00:51:26.000]then going to the president and they got turned down.
[00:51:30.560]And he said, so like, one of their last strategies was,
[00:51:33.140]let's have a sit-in,
[00:51:34.910]let's just sort of open this up and let the public know
[00:51:39.510]what is going on because change is necessary.
[00:51:43.070]And so that that's been his...
[00:51:46.117]When he talks about his tenure as a student
[00:51:50.180]at the university,
[00:51:51.400]that's one of those things he said,
[00:51:54.197]making certain that the public knew how black students
[00:51:58.420]were one treated that there were no black faculty
[00:52:01.610]at the university,
[00:52:02.720]and that they were asking for Black Studies departments
[00:52:06.440]so that Black Studies could be on the same level
[00:52:10.150]as the European studies programs at the university.
[00:52:14.530]He said, we have to study those things.
[00:52:17.010]Let us also study about ourselves
[00:52:19.500]and let others know about ourselves.
[00:52:22.860]And he still continues to have an impact
[00:52:24.870]on the community today.
[00:52:26.560]Still is very, yes, very, very active.
[00:52:29.950]Now, Dr. Robinson,
[00:52:33.620]can you share with us some of the events that may coming up
[00:52:37.680]as it pertains to the 50th year anniversary.
[00:52:42.540]Some of the events that we've done,
[00:52:44.140]they have been mostly webinars because of COVID.
[00:52:48.330]But the big event in person event
[00:52:50.750]was the celebrating the Omaha 54.
[00:52:54.243]And we have, again, a lot of webinars in between July 28th,
[00:52:59.650]when we did the Omaha 54 event.
[00:53:01.660]And today we're doing a webinar with the Omaha 54,
[00:53:08.720]again, some of the alumni,
[00:53:11.130]but not just celebrating the 50th.
[00:53:16.390]What we normally would do is Black Studies has, for example,
[00:53:21.120]and this was brought by the previous chair, Dr. Imani.
[00:53:25.300]He came in doing something called donning of the Kente.
[00:53:29.660]And so if you have African in your ancestry,
[00:53:33.070]whether you majored in Black Studies
[00:53:34.580]or minored in Black Studies,
[00:53:35.750]or took Black Studies courses or not,
[00:53:38.140]if you were black and you are graduating,
[00:53:40.960]he would do the ceremony.
[00:53:42.467]And then the students would get a kente shawl
[00:53:45.900]that they would wear kente cloth shawl that they would wear.
[00:53:48.630]And these students loved it.
[00:53:51.820]And so it started very small.
[00:53:53.460]And I think this might
[00:53:54.300]be the seventh or eighth year doing it.
[00:53:58.060]It started small,
[00:53:59.220]and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger.
[00:54:01.350]And then we just had to stop it because of COVID.
[00:54:04.470]So that is a big thing that we will do every year.
[00:54:07.960]We are also involved in the Kwanzaa celebration every year,
[00:54:12.370]but again, we haven't because of COVID.
[00:54:14.520]So Black Studies,
[00:54:15.380]we were doing a social to sort of gather all black students
[00:54:21.760]and black faculty and staff.
[00:54:23.467]And we called that black UNO.
[00:54:25.720]And so we set this flyer out,
[00:54:28.330]do you have African in your ancestry?
[00:54:30.190]If you do come to the social, eat chicken wings and pizza.
[00:54:35.130]And so that just how black people get to know each other
[00:54:38.250]on this campus,
[00:54:39.470]the multicultural affairs under Taricka Burton.
[00:54:44.350]And before that,
[00:54:45.183]under James Freeman in have really supported
[00:54:48.020]the Department of Black Studies
[00:54:50.217]and the things that we have done
[00:54:51.820]have been collaborated with the multicultural affairs.
[00:54:55.690]And I wanna just say that the 50th celebration
[00:54:58.770]that we've been doing all year with all the webinars
[00:55:01.400]and all the events that we're doing,
[00:55:04.100]that is also collaborated with is Criss library,
[00:55:08.080]Amy Schindler and Claire Delaney,
[00:55:10.410]along with our coordinator, Deborah Heard,
[00:55:13.140]putting on this fabulous,
[00:55:14.930]I'm gonna call it a fabulous 50th celebration
[00:55:17.940]because that is what it has been.
[00:55:19.990]And we have been able
[00:55:21.010]to get local, national and international,
[00:55:25.210]local, national and international scholars.
[00:55:29.170]And because these are webinars, they are all over the globe.
[00:55:32.500]Now you can watch 'em and people have access
[00:55:36.060]to them all over.
[00:55:37.400]And so this has really exceeded my expectations.
[00:55:42.600]I'm quite happy about what we're doing.
[00:55:47.617]Can I say something?
[00:55:50.090]We only have a few minutes left
[00:55:51.790]and I just wanna get this plug in,
[00:55:54.260]for those of you who are part of our audience,
[00:55:57.280]that if you're thinking about
[00:55:58.410]how you can support Black Studies,
[00:56:01.120]I think there's several things that you can do.
[00:56:03.120]One is take a Black Studies class.
[00:56:05.910]That's always a beginning.
[00:56:08.370]And if you've taken Black Studies classes,
[00:56:11.180]tell others about what Black Studies has to offer,
[00:56:15.370]so that they too would become interested in Black Studies.
[00:56:20.580]I also feel that it's important
[00:56:22.543]that if you support Black Studies,
[00:56:25.070]you also support black students.
[00:56:27.710]And we at the university,
[00:56:29.430]at least, many of us at the university
[00:56:31.670]are concerned about our lack of getting students
[00:56:35.890]at the university who want to enroll
[00:56:38.900]too many of our young African American males.
[00:56:42.640]And females seem to be lost after graduation.
[00:56:46.910]They're not enrolling either at Metro or UNO,
[00:56:50.510]we would like them at UNO.
[00:56:52.370]And if not UNO, go to Metro,
[00:56:55.800]go to some college so that you can get additional education,
[00:57:03.450]And for those young individuals now who say,
[00:57:06.410]well, why college?
[00:57:07.520]Why should I go?
[00:57:09.180]Look at your earning power.
[00:57:12.420]Look at what's the earning power
[00:57:14.110]you're gonna make over your lifetime,
[00:57:15.950]at least one to two million more over your lifetime.
[00:57:20.870]If you go to college and take Black Studies classes
[00:57:25.150]will give you support, will give you a better perspective
[00:57:30.560]of who you are as a person.
[00:57:32.970]So we really encourage you to enroll, learn
[00:57:40.100]and be persistent and support what we do
[00:57:43.910]in the African American community in Omaha Nebraska,
[00:57:46.690]and elsewhere, and visit the Great Plains Black Museum too.
[00:57:53.410]Is it something else?
[00:57:55.030]Because there's a lot of history there.
[00:57:58.320]Yeah., well, and a couple of things
[00:58:01.230]before we finish wrap up, I believe on April 28th,
[00:58:04.980]Dr. Robinson you're having a round table discussion.
[00:58:08.820]Yes, I am having a round table discussion.
[00:58:11.110]There are a lot of things going on this month.
[00:58:13.360]I'm having a round table discussion on April 28th,
[00:58:17.796]and on April 29th,
[00:58:18.980]we're having songs of the revolution
[00:58:25.570]and sort of "Isley brothers fight the power",
[00:58:28.610]those kind of songs.
[00:58:29.790]We're having a party with those kind of songs
[00:58:32.170]out here in the pit bull on April 29th.
[00:58:36.290]I am also interviewing Dr. Kerry-Ann Escayg
[00:58:39.030]sometime this month,
[00:58:40.410]hope she's in the college of education
[00:58:42.510]on her anti-racism education book.
[00:58:45.710]So there are a lot of different things going on.
[00:58:47.920]And again, please check our website, Black Studies website,
[00:58:51.540]college of Arts and Sciences,
[00:58:52.730]Black Studies website for what we're doing.
[00:58:55.640]And also you can look at our videos on YouTube
[00:58:59.080]or on the website.
[00:59:00.630]Okay, and one last thing,
[00:59:01.910]where can we get the T-shirt and the mask?
[00:59:06.140]You can get the mask from here at Black Studies.
[00:59:08.890]You can come up here to Black Studies and get the mask.
[00:59:11.380]Mr. Ewing, I'll bring you some mask.
[00:59:13.790]I will bring you a lot of masks.
[00:59:15.250]I want them to paper the town.
[00:59:17.640]That's what we do with the T-shirts
[00:59:19.460]and now we have 500 T-shirts.
[00:59:22.000]I think we have five left.
[00:59:24.950]They would very, very, very quickly.
[00:59:27.350]We still have a lot of mask left
[00:59:28.900]because we just ordered the mask,
[00:59:30.180]we just were able to get the mask.
[00:59:31.400]So I would make sure you have some masks,
[00:59:33.190]Preston Love has a mask.
[00:59:34.860]A lot of our faculty have masks.
[00:59:36.850]I pass them out to friends of mine.
[00:59:38.760]I want to paper the town with these masks,
[00:59:41.880]so if you want a mask, contact me,
[00:59:45.140]contact our department 4, 2, 5, 5, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2.
[00:59:49.270]Again, Mr. Ewing,
[00:59:50.270]I will make sure you have a bunch of masks.
[00:59:51.890]I will bring them to you.
[00:59:55.150]Well, I wanna thank everyone for being here today.
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