Hannah Michelle Bussa
On Oct. 2, the Culxr House hosted the Black Culxr Matters Street Fest on the 24th block of Wirt Street in Omaha. People gathered throughout the evening to show what liberation and justice look like and to celebrate Black culture.
Decker Woods, known on stage as Dex Arbor, performed at the event.
“Omaha has become my go-to place for cultural experiences,” Woods said. “There’s actually a lot of variety in Omaha as far as art, music, and fashion interest. For such a small place there is a lot of creativity, and I think this event is a good reminder for people. This creates a space to celebrate Black Life.”
Bear Alexander was another individual involved at the event and is an organizer with “ProBLAC,” a direct-action group that had a table at the event.
Alexander said: “This event is to shine a light on Black excellence and Black success. Too many times, especially this summer, we have been plagued with having to shine a spotlight on the social injustices that are affecting Black and brown communities at a disproportionate rate. We have been so encapsulated in just that approach where we almost seem to forget the beauty of our Black culture and the success that is going on in our Black culture. This event is to bring up and empower that Black culture, and just to remind the community of all the amazing things that you have around you, which I think is amazing. It’s beautiful.”
ProBLAC is the Progressive Black-Led Ally Coalition. For those wanting to plug in, they meet on Sundays at 6 p.m. at the downtown location of Hardy Coffee and can be found on social media @WeAreProBlac.
“I love the opportunity that this event gives for different groups and businesses to present themselves to the community that they reside in or that they want to have an impact on,” Peyton Zyla, also an organizer with ProBLAC, said, “as well as hearing from local artists, talking about issues that affect our community, civil rights history and the election. It’s just great to get people together and talk about these multiple things and come together.”
Among the speakers was UNO alumnus Timothy L. Ashford, an attorney who spoke on civil rights history, the Black Panthers and Black Power. Erica Jay, a video producer, spoke and offered a livestreaming class online for businesses.
For vendors, this event helped bring visibility to their businesses. Nicole Louis was selling her book “A Girl’s Secrets” and masks. With most of her sales being face-to-face, she emphasized the importance of the event. She was also selling coloring books her husband designed.
“As our kids were growing up, they didn’t get a chance to see themselves in coloring books, so that’s why my husband decided to create those,” Louis said.
“There’s so much culture here,” Pebbles said. “Everyone that’s vending is a brown person of some sort, or a Black Lives Matter activist, and I think that’s really important right now. There’s so much hatred, and to have something positive that strengthens the community is very important.”
Civic Nebraska also had a table to help people register to vote, complete the Census and make their voting plans, either by mail or in person. Civic Nebraska can be reached by text or call at 402-890-5291 for questions about voting.
What YOUth Can Do (WYCD) was present as well to bring awareness to their organization.
“When we got together, there was a lot of anger and a lot of grief, so our demands rose out of us thinking, ‘what can we do to make the experiences that we had better for students?’” Lauren Anderson with WYCD said.
“We didn’t want to speak in front of people and not know what we are talking about,” Mekhi Mitchell, also with WYCD, said. “So we actually did a whole bunch of research to make sure we had the right facts for everything we wanted to do.”
Anderson highlighted the mentorship they have received from the people at the Culxr House for their organization.
UNO sophomore Bria Gilmore was at the event with the organization Grassroots Initiative.
“Our organization is about breaking down beauty standards and uplifting Black people, and essentially to empower them, and to make a difference with social justice and activism,” Gilmore said.
Grassroots Initiative has an event coming up on Sunday, Oct. 18 called “Beauty in Color.” Register at 402-401-8020.
“The importance of an event like this is to get the community together, and what I’m seeing right now is beautiful,” Zyla with ProBLAC emphasized, “Because I see different stands of not just organizations, but people with businesses, people that have skills or are doing things, and are here to present that to members of their community.”
Zyla can also be found at Zeyela’s Live Reports.
“As a group that takes marginalized voices – Black and brown voices, especially women of color – and give them a position of power, we are here to enjoy the event and get our word out,” Alexander said. “We are empowering those voices. We don’t like to look at it as ‘we’re giving voices to the voiceless;’ we are giving voices to the unheard. We all have voices; we are just sometimes not heard. So, we want to bring out those voices in our group, which is a big reason why we are here.”
Each artist, vendor, and organization can be found on social media through the hyperlinks in this story. The Culxr House can also be found online at https://www.culxr.house/.