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Omaha city leaders honor the legacy of Vivian Strong with street naming

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jun 16, 2023

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — Almost 54 years ago, 14-year-old Vivian Strong and her friends were enjoying their afternoon when they learned about an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.

“And then during the day, somebody said 'Hey, they left a unit open. The maintenance guys left a unit open we are gonna have a party,'” said Carol Strong-Larry, Vivian’s sister.

Vivian and her friends loved to dance and listen to records and they jumped at a chance to enjoy the space of the vacant unit.

But a short while later, after some music and dancing, a police car pulled up.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think that they were there for them. They were just in a vacant unit. Nobody broke in they were just teenagers, dancing, having a good time,” said Strong-Larry.

Vivian and her friends ran from the apartment, but as she ran away a white police officer, James Loder, shot and killed her.

Witnesses say Loder gave no warning before shooting Vivian.

Her killing sparked three days of riots that forever changed North Omaha. The community has kept her spirit alive ever since and now, almost 54 years later, Vivian will be immortalized on the street where she lost her life.

“We need, and she is a symbol of our past, but she is a symbol of our future. We need Vivian, we love Vivian, and we say thank you Vivian Strong,” said Preston Love Jr.

21st Street, from Clark to Paul Street, will now be named Vivian Strong Street to honor her memory.

The recognition of Vivian and her tragic killing is long overdue and city leaders hope the street will serve as a symbol of the community’s resilience and remind all of us that there is still work left to do.

“Let this street marker denote that it is time for change. It is time for unity, its time for us to work together ... to bridge the gap of poverty,” said City Councilwoman Juanita Johnson.

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