Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989

By Amy Helene Forss | Go to book overview

7
Changing Strategies for Changing Times

Music blared from the doorway of the dilapidated empty unit in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Project. It was the summer of 1969, the year following the Fair Housing Act, which finally gave northern Omaha residents open housing, the right to choose where they wanted to live in the city. However, like many other impoverished black residents, the parents of Vivian Strong did not have the financial means to leave their low-income government housing. Mildred Brown, like most residents of the Near North Side, originally thought the Fontenelle apartment buildings “were a good idea, but [they became] a den of criminals.” It was like “assigning people to a dead end.” The violence in this project was sporadic and created uneasiness; residents called it “Vietnam.” Project dwellers lived in an atmosphere of terror, afraid to report crimes or testify in court. On the fateful warm evening of June 24, 1969, white officer James L. Loder was driving his police cruiser through the black neighborhood toward the project. He was responding to a public disturbance call of loud music. As the police officer approached the partially vacant dwellings, several black children ran out of a doorway. One of them was fourteen-year-old Vivian Strong. Loder did not shout at her to stop. According to him, “she was running away from the scene, [and] we were supposed to shoot.” He aimed his gun at the back of her head and pulled the trigger. Strong’s sister Carol, who was nearby, will forever remember seeing her older sibling crumpled on the ground. Vivian died instantly. The death of this “skinny little girl” started a riot, the third of its kind in three years, and the worst racial disturbance in Omaha’s history. Approximately fifty predominantly white-owned businesses and numerous parked

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Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1- Laying the Foundation 19
  • 1- A Family of Fighters 21
  • 2- Involving the Community 43
  • 3- Politics of Respectability 59
  • Part 2- Ensuring Her Success 81
  • 4- Working within Her Space 83
  • 5- Collective Activism and the de Porres Club 101
  • 6- Restricted Housing and ‘Rithmetic 123
  • Part 3- Transferring Ownership to the Community 141
  • 7- Changing Strategies for Changing Times 143
  • 8- The Death of An Icon 165
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 233
  • In the Women in the West Series 242
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