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'There was nothing that we needed': Omaha author honors city's Black history with 'The Deuce'

Patricia Allen wrote the book on the N 24th St. corridor and hopes younger generations understand the rich history of the neighborhood
Posted at 9:23 AM, Feb 06, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Patricia Allen knows her neighborhood well. She grew up near N 26th and Seward St. and remembers the thriving community of the N. 24th street corridor nearby.

“They first called it 'The Deuce and a Quarter,' and then they called it 'The Deuce Four,' but knowing us, we straight up called it 'The Deuce,'" said Allen.

It was a time when Black Omahans started their own businesses along the street between Cuming to the south and Ohio St. to the north.

Allen’s sense of pride in the community inspired her to write "The Deuce," a book documenting it all.

Allen said there were at least 200 Black-owned businesses lining both sides of the street.

“As you peruse through the book, you'll see there's five or six pages of just businesses,” Allen said.

It's a walk down memory lane for Allen and everyone else who remembers what N. 24th street used to be. For younger generations, Allen says it's a different story.

“Young people have no idea of our history,” she said. “They have no idea what a great area it was. Those that are living in the community now don't have the pride that we had cause they don't see anything, but we had everything, there was nothing that we needed.”

It’s a history Allen documents as both good and bad. She remembers a 14-year-old girl who was killed by a police officer and the burning of “The Deuce” in June 1969. Buildings were torched and riots broke out.

Today, N. 24th St. is still recovering from those events over half a century later. Allen is aware of ideas to develop the corridor once again, and she said she wants any potential for new development to honor the history of what was here.

“If they could preserve the history I think that would be the greatest thing of all,” she said. “In 54 years, I just don't know.”

Allen’s book is available on Amazon for $25. She plans on holding a book signing later this month at the Fab Lab located at 2514 N 24th St.

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