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OPS summer school students deep dive into Omaha's Black history with 'The Green Book' project

'I didn’t know they had segregation that bad'
Posted at 3:51 PM, Jun 29, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — From restaurants to hotels and auto repair shops, "The Green Book" is now seen as a look into Omaha's history that kids — like 14-year-old John Stieren — in Omaha Public School’s Next Level Learning Program didn’t know existed, until now.

His summer school class is learning about the Omaha locations that were in "The Green Book," a publication that listed various businesses that were safe for black people to travel to during segregation. Learning about "The Green Book" was an eye-opening process for John’s classmate Kirah.

“I didn’t know they had segregation that bad,” she said.

Each student is researching an Omaha business that was in the travel guide; learning about where it was located, the type of business it was, and who owned it. Many were centered around North Omaha and the North 24th Street corridor.

After their research, the information the kids gather will be used far outside of Omaha.

Kristie Gerber program director for OPS said the research kids gather will go to the Smithsonian to be part of a national exhibit.

The goal for their teacher, Cory Johnson, is that they get a deeper understanding of history.

“I really hope that my students understand the progress we’ve made as a society and still maybe how far we still need to go,” Johnson said. “For them to learn something about their backyard and make a connection to their past this is why I teach.”

For the students, they hope this research is shared with as many people as possible.

“I think it would be good for not just the kid’s knowledge but the adult's knowledge so that they know what happened and what African Americans went through,” Rocha said.

Gerber said the kids’ research also involved field trips to the locations listed in "The Green Book."

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