Celebrate Black History Month in Nebraska
This collection of historical sites and museums honors the monumental events, places, and people who paved the way for Black Americans in Nebraska.
Malcolm X House Site
In 1925, Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little) was born on this Omaha site, in a now-demolished house. During the civil rights movement, he was a prominent American Muslim minister and human rights activist. Today, the Malcolm X Foundation owns the 17-acres surrounding where baby Malcolm once lived and is building a space to be used for international education and entertainment. Malcom X was recently selected to the Nebraska Hall of Fame, a bust of him will be added at the State Capitol in the near future.
Great Plains Black History Museum
The Great Plains Black History Museum’s mission is, “To preserve, celebrate and educate all people of the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout the great plains of America.” In Omaha, this collection is one of 81 museums focused on African American history in the country, and the only one in Nebraska.
This museum is on the site of the Dorrington Home (burned down in 1877), the Falls City family provided shelter for escaped slaves prior to the Civil War and was a key stop for slaves escaping Missouri and Kansas. In 2022 the ground was added to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad “Network to Freedom” program and a plaque was installed. There is also a store front display at the museum telling the Dorrington story.
The grave of George Flippin, the first Black football player for the University of Nebraska can be found in Stromsburg. Born to freed slaves Flippin played for the Bugeaters in the 1890s. He would go on to become a well-respected doctor in the Stromsburg area. He built the towns first hospital, which is now the local bed and breakfast.
Learn more about Flippin and his family at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln and visitors of Kearney should check out the quirky restaurant Flippin’ Sweet, named as a tribute to this great Nebraskan.
Fort Robinson State Park
A notable role was played by the Ninth Cavalry Regiment during the early years of the 20th century as Black soldiers dominated the ranks at Fort Robinson near Crawford. The first Black chaplain in the regular army and the second African American graduate of West Point served here: Lt. John Alexander and Henry Plummer. Among Native Americans, these militias were referred to as Buffalo Soldiers, a nickname that became a source of pride.
Dobby’s Frontier Town
The second original home of Robert “Bob” Anderson is now part of Dobby’s Frontier Town in Alliance. Anderson was born into slavery and after the Civil War became Nebraska’s first Black homesteader in 1870. In 1927 Anderson released From Slavery to Affluence, an autobiography his young wife helped him pen about his hardships and what it took to eventually find success as a Black rancher in Box Butte County.
In the first decades of the 1900s DeWitty, named after a local Black business owner, was home to the largest populations of African Americans who homesteaded in Nebraska. By 1920 these families had claimed over 40,000 acres but by 1936 the town was renamed and disincorporated. Today, a Nebraska State Historical Society roadside marker on U.S. Highway 83 commemorates the DeWitty settlement and the Cherry Co. Descendants of DeWitty is an active group sharing their ancestor’s story. The exhibit, Descendants of DeWitty is on display at The Durham Museum in Omaha through 5/28/2023.