“I would just like to thank God for letting me come to the United States, and for a country that accepts everybody, everybody is the same, whatever color, just be an American to American. And, I hope that this happens in South Sudan, that we become like the United States. And thank you to the United States for welcoming us here and providing a better future for our children.”
- Mrs. Mary George, administrator & Interpreter at the Sothern Sudanese Community Association
The Making Invisible Histories Visible project focused on the African American population in Omaha, Nebraska, and uncovered hidden or ignored aspects of their history. The history of the Sudanese community in Omaha is slightly different because the population we researched does not self-identify as African American, nor does the African American population always accept this new population as the “same.” Therefore, our goal was to find specific themes that related to both cultures to ensure parallels between Sudanese and African American populations were apparent.
First, we compared the migration of black people from South Sudan in recent decades to the migration of black people from the US South in the first half of the 20th century. A second powerful connection was how, after migrating, both groups of people began to blend their cultures with the cultures of their new home. Third, we highlighted the generational tensions between the elders and the youth of both communities. Finally, we emphasized the desire for political representation and freedom among African Americans and South Sudanese immigrants.
The South Sudanese population in Omaha continues to grow. However, the number of incoming refugees has decreased due to the official end of the Civil War in Sudan as of July, 2012. South Sudanese continue to travel to Omaha because of the already established ethnic community as well as the abundance of entry-level jobs and affordable housing.
The Southern Sudan Community Association is a beacon in the community providing assistance and support for new refugees in the Omaha community. Other notable agencies that help new refugees are Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and Catholic Charities of Omaha. Omaha Public Schools also provides many services throughout the district to families who have school-aged children.
Pascale, Jordan. "Southern Sudan Referendum voter turnout in Omaha extremely high." The Lincoln Journal Star, January 18, 2011. Accessed July 23, 2012. http://journalstar.com/news/local/article_c8089db7-4737-5607-9517-77bcd7e81577.html
Pipher, Mary. The Middle of Everywhere: The World’s Refugees Come to Our Town. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2002.
Southern Sudan Community Association. Accessed July 23, 2012. http://sscaomaha.info/ssca_wp/