OPS Elementary Schools - Northeast Area
Brief Explanation of Area:
The Northeast area spans from Dodge Street to the south, Sorensen Parkway/Storz Expressway to the north, Fontenelle Boulevard to the west, and the Missouri River to the east. In all, 25 past and current elementary schools are in this area. This area contains some of OPS’ first elementary schools, built in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s as the population north of downtown Omaha grew.
The area was filled with immigrant families, including Italians, Irish, and Scandinavians, and later Jewish and African Americans who emigrated from the South. Schools not only taught students during the day but English classes at night to their immigrant parents. The picture is from the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society archives.
Starting in the 1940s, whites lured by new homes and easy financing moved out of the area to Omaha’s western suburbs. African Americans were forced to stay, and unable to move because of restrictive covenants in the new suburbs and the inability to get loans for housing.
Northeast Area Map
A 3-minute presentation produced by students participating in the 2022 Omaha Public Schools Making Invisible Histories Visible program highlighting the history, demographics, and 1976 desegregation plan of Kellom, King, Pershing, Central Park, and Conestoga Elementary Schools in the Northeast area of Omaha.
Brief Explanation of Desegregation/Busing:
Prior to Omaha Public School’s court-ordered “Desegregation Plan” that implemented mandatory busing from 1976 to 1999, schools within the Northeast Division were predominantly Black. In 1976, students attending Saratoga, Kellom, Clifton Hill, Kennedy, Conestoga, Lothrop, and Druid Hill attended their home school Kindergarten through 3rd grade and then were bused in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade to predominately white schools west or south of their neighborhoods.
Demographics in 2020-2021:
In the 1970s the Northeast area schools were 75 to 98% African American. In 2020-21, that number has shifted to 50 percent African American with a mix of Hispanics, Whites, and Asians filling in the rest.
2022 MIHV Project
I got to talk to people who weren’t white and who weren’t men, and I got to hear their side of things. There is so much I want to learn now… - Scout
Some highlights of what I learned were the integrated busing program, the Brown II pushback, and how everything affected the kids who experienced it all. – Oliver
My understanding has changed drastically because, before this program, I didn’t know most of these schools existed, but now I know their origin and history. – Jeffrey
With the interviews, you just get a more personal view of what happened and how it affected people and the communities. My understanding of Omaha has changed in good and bad ways. I think that it was good that they had a more diverse school system, but I think it’s bad that they had to force that upon students, teachers, and schools. – Izzy
MIHV made me understand the experiences of those who came before me and how drastically times have changed. – Anahi
Interviews July 2022:
Brenda Council, Lothrop Elementary
Boris Moore, Franklin Elementary
Rod Mullen, Lake, Monmouth and Waconda
Johnny Nesbit, Lothrop and Skinner
The Plan - Desegregation of the Omaha Public Schools, 1981-82
United States District Court Desegregation Plan for the School District of Omaha, May 1976
Desegregation Task Force Recommendations to the Superintendent, October 1998
The Durham Museum Archives
The Omaha World-Herald Archives
The Omaha Public Schools Archives/TAC Building