THE NEGROES OF NEBRASKA
The Negro In Public Life
(26) The problems confronting the Negroes of Nebraska in their lives and activities as citizens of the State have been recognized by the Negroes themselves as problems arising chiefly from racial dissimilarities between Negroes and whites. Consequently the leading members of the group have for many years endeavored in one way or another to adjust interracial attitudes so that Negro citizens can function harmoniously with white citizens as civic unite. To this end they have founded a number of organizations, some of which are state branches of national societies, for the purpose of bettering the civic status of Negroes.
Negro organizations which have worked constantly to advance the cause of equal rights for Negro citizens, and have likewise encouraged a program for the development of better interracial relations, are headed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which has a branch organization in Nebraska. Other organizations with similar purposes are the State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs; the Negro post of the American Legion; the Nebraska branches at Omaha and Lincoln of the National Urban League; the Colored Commercial Club of Omaha; the Negro Civic Council of Omaha (organized in 1937 but at present inactive), headed by its "Negro Mayor;" the Negro Chamber of Commerce of Omaha; and others. Space does not permit a history or detailed discussion of each of these groups individually. Their aims, in general, are more or less similar, though they differ somewhat in the nature and scope of their related activities.
The Negroes living in Nebraska's two largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln, have always felt that their share of jobs in the field of public service should be considerably above what it is. It is true that Negroes hold positions in connection with municipal, county, state, and federal governments, but they feel that more such jobs should be made available to the race, and base their argument on population percentage and the amount of taxes paid by the group. Until (27) 1939 they found cause for complaint in the fact that the telephone companies refused them any employment whatsoever. At the present time eleven Negroes, both men and women, are employed by the telephone company in Omaha. All in all, however, the jobs held by them in municipal utilities are very few.
A number of Negroes are nevertheless employed in several branches of public service in both Omaha and Lincoln. There are, in both cities, Negro policemen, mail carriers, and other post office employees, and in Omaha there is one fire company with all its firemen Negroes. The State employs a Negro laboratory technician.
A Negro, Harry H. Bradley, had been in continuous service at the State Capitol in Lincoln as State Legislative custodian for thirty-eight years at the time of his death in 1938. He was the first colored child born at Seward, Nebraska, in 1875. His uncle, Major Brown, who lived to the age of a hundred years, was the first mail carrier at Seward, and the first Negro mail carrier in Nebraska.
Negroes who have held responsible public positions in Nebraska have usually acquitted themselves in a creditable manner. Even as early as 1868, a Negro, W. H. Bowman, served as Sergeant-at-Arms during the First State Legislature. Negroes have held the (28) positions of Inspector of Weights and Measures, Deputy Oil Inspector, Whiskey Gauger, and Deputy Sheriff. One, Millard F. Singleton, was at one time, 1885, a Justice of the Peace in Douglas County, two years after he came to Omaha in 1883.
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