Welcome to the

Great Plains
Black History Museum

Our mission is to preserve, educate, and exhibit the contributions and achievements of African Americans with an emphasis on the Great Plains region, as well as provide a space to learn, explore, reflect and remember our history.

On Exhibit

Great Plains Black History Museum is proud to host rotating exhibitions throughout the year. Below, you’ll find details for our in-person and online exhibitions.

Online Exhibits

Black and White in Black and White

Virtual Gallery

This virtual exhibition reveals the dignity and hope of African Americans in early 20th‑century America. In 1965, 16‑year‑old Doug Keister acquired 280 glass plate negatives, originally found at a local garage sale. He immediately made prints from some of the plates, revealing powerful, early 20th-century portraits of African Americans in Lincoln, Nebraska. These astonishing images are now on display in a virtual exhibition curated by Keister.

In-Person Exhibits

Hate & Hope – Permanent Display
The Great Plains Black History Museum invites you to tour its Hate & Hope Exhibit. This exhibit focuses on the ugly part of history in the Great Plains and positive events in Omaha, as well as other parts of America. The Hate exhibit displays the history of lynchings throughout the Great Plains of America. The Hope exhibit features Mrs. Bertha Calloway, the founder of the GPBHM, information on the first African American film company, and other accomplishments of African Americans.

24th & Glory – Permanent Display
Through photos and artifacts that features Johnny “The Jett” Rodgers’ Heisman Trophy. The exhibit looks at the intersection of civil rights and Omaha’s greatest generation of athletes to come out of one community.

African American History Through Street Signs – June 5 to September 30, 2024
African American History Through Street Signs exhibit will focus on all the streets in Omaha, Nebraska that have been named after African Americans, and will also feature QRC codes are placed on the signs throughout Omaha to learn more about each individual online.

Black Homesteaders in The Great Plains of America – February 1 to August 1, 2024
Homesteaded in all the Great Plains states. While few in comparison with the multitudes of White settlers, Black people created homes, farms, a “place,” and a society that were all their own. The Homestead Act opened land ownership to male citizens, widows, single women, and immigrants pledging to become citizens. The 1866 Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed that African Americans were also eligible. Black homesteaders used it to build new lives in which they owned the land they worked, provided for their families, and educated their children. They built meaningful cultural and religious lives for their communities and governed their own affairs themselves—that is, they sought the full benefits of being free and equal citizens.

A League of our Own Negro League Baseball – June 1 to July 13, 2024
It is said that in 1839, Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball, but today’s game should be credited to Alexander Joy Cartwright. In 1845, Cartwright added the “diamond-shaped infield, foul lines, and the three-strike rule.” In 1920, Major League Baseball was founded, but their league did not allow African Americans to participate. So, that very same year, we established a League of Our Own, the Negro Baseball League.

The Greatness of Us African American Inventors – March 1 to May 31, 2024 | December 1 to December 31, 2024
It is said that in 1839, Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball, but today’s game should be credited to Alexander Joy Cartwright. In 1845, Cartwright added the “diamond-shaped infield, foul lines, and the three-strike rule.” In 1920, Major League Baseball was founded, but their league did not allow African Americans to participate. So, that very same year, we established a League of Our Own, the Negro Baseball League.

The March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom – August 3 to September 23, 2024
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom exhibit, in remembrance of the Dream. On August 28, 1963, the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement were responsible for conducting the largest demonstration ever seen in our nation’s capital.

Tuskegee Airmen & Those Who Served AA in Military – November 2 to December 2, 2024
Tuskegee Airmen Who Called Nebraska Home & African Americans Who Served Exhibit. This exhibit looks at the Tuskegee Airmen who lived in Nebraska and local African Americans who served in the Military.

The History of Kwanzaa – November 30, 2024 to January 1, 2025
The History of Kwanzaa exhibit celebrates the history of its founder Dr. Maulana Karenga, and its seven principles and symbols.

Become a Member

Purchasing an annual membership means supporting our exhibitions and gaining access to members-only benefits, like invitations to special events and a 10% discount on our merchandise. You’ll receive an official membership card within two weeks of your purchase, but you can visit the museum any time before then. 

Student: $10

Single: $20

Family: $40

Business: $100

Lifetime: $500

Please contact the museum if you would like to gift a membership. 

About Great Plains Black History Museum

For the past 40 years, the Great Plains Black History Museum has been an important institution dedicated to publicizing and preserving the achievements of the region’s vibrant African American heritage. We welcome the African American community, regional residents and schools, and Omaha-area visitors.

Vision

We collect and preserve materials documenting the Black experience while making these available to the public. We are an educational resource available for schools, inspiring learning through our permanent collection, exhibitions, and programs. We aim to generate growth in North Omaha and to facilitate research, instruction, and artistic expression adhering to authenticity and truthfulness in presentation.

Dear Friends of the Great Plains Black History Museum,

In 1975, Mrs. Bertha Calloway envisioned sharing the rich history of African Americans with the Omaha community.  She founded the Great Plains Black History Museum (GPBHM) to be a resource for the community.

Recently, America has experienced unrest due to senseless injustice and racial violence. Once again, America is at a crossroads as it struggles to make sense of the racial abuse of its African American citizens. The board of directors & staff of the Great Plains Black History Museum would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost their loved ones during these times of unrest.

We at the Great Plains Black History Museum know that now is the time to work on the healing process and bring everyone together to make a fair and just environment for all. The great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “The time is always right to do what is right. We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.” We at the GPBHM want everyone to know that we are here for you as a resource to help in educating everyone on the history of African Americans to bring people together and encourage the dialogue needed to bridge the divide and bring us together as one.

Eric L. Ewing, Executive Director

Portia Cavitt, Board President

Meet Our Board

Click on the photos below to learn more about each board member.

Eric L. Ewing

Frank Hayes

Jamar L. Dorsey, Ed.D.
 

Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh

Rev. Portia Cavitt

Johnny Nesbit

Davielle Phillips

Dorothy Johnson

 

Bryce McGuire

Rudy Smith (emeritus)

Videos

Interested in learning more about the museum? Watch the videos below.

In the News

Our executive director talks about the museum and Black History Month with WOWT 6 News.

The Museum Reopening

Step inside the grand opening event of our North 24th Street location. 

Interview with our Executive Director

Eric Ewing chats with the “Before You Go” podcast about the museum and its history. 

Great Plains Black History Museum
2221 N. 24th Street
Omaha, NE, 68110

 

402-932-7077

/Greatplainsblackhistorymuseum

Hours of Operation

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
1-5 PM
*Private Tours available by Appointment

Contact

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