Eric Ewing is a firm believer in learning from history.
“If you don't know where you've been, you don't know where you're going,” he said.
As the executive director of the Great Plains Black History Museum, he said he wants to honor the achievements of local African Americans while also encouraging a new generation.
In the latest exhibit, “A Look at Successful African Americans in and from Omaha,” 30 influencers are highlighted including activist Bertha Calloway and the founder of the black paper The Omaha North, Mildred Brown.
Other portraits and biographies include the first black aviator from Omaha, Tuskegee Airmen Alfozo Davis.
Familiar faces also include the former-Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren.
As the first black person to guide Omaha’s finest, the department experienced a reduction in major crime in the city during his last two years. Simultaneously, it also battled an influx of gang violence.
In 2008, he retired to take what he called, "his dream job" with the Urban League of Nebraska, where he's still the president and CEO.
Though his name and snapshots show his former life, he says: he's not finished yet at the Urban League.
"Our work right now, is focused on the next generation,” Warren said. “The next generation of young professionals, the next young generations of C.E.O.'s –the next generation of entrepreneurs."
For Ewing, it’s this next wave of influencers the exhibit aims to target. Thirty stories adorn the walls of the museum, each marked with triumphant stories despite challenges – it’s this narrative the native wants to make sure visitors understand.
"It's not where you come from or where you start,” he said. “It's where you end."