Lawmakers, community members talk continuing Dr. King’s fight for economic opportunity

Originally Published: January 16, 2023

Lawmakers, community members talk continuing Dr. King’s fight for economic opportunity

OMAHA, Neb.—Local Black-owned restaurant Big Mama’s Kitchen and Catering co-hosted a luncheon with Black Men United and United Way of the Midlands to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday.

It was an opportunity to enjoy a meal and celebrate Dr. King and his legacy.

States Sens. Terrell McKinney and Justin Wayne were in attendance. Both spoke of economic conditions and opportunities for the black community.

“Dr. King was also fighting for economic rights and economic inclusion for black people in America,” McKinney said.

Wayne talked about LB 1024, which was legislation passed last year providing hundreds of millions of dollars aimed at jobs and development, and getting some of that money to North Omaha.

“We wanted to make sure with 1024 and these dollars—these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities—that if you want to start a business, you have the same opportunity to start a business,” Wayne said. “We wanted to make sure you had the same educational opportunities. We wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to buy a home.”

Wayne called it a starting point, and said they’d like to bring in more.

“This year as a state, we have $2.3 billion that we have to spend,” he said. “That’s how much we’re over budget, and we have a constitutional amendment that requires us to have zero budget. So we have to spend it. So why can’t $200 million come back to North Omaha?

He said their vision for North Omaha is 24th Street becoming the historical corridor that it should be.

McKinney also said there will be several hearings concerning criminal justice coming up this legislative session. He encouraged community members to show up and make their voices heard.

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