OPINION: Mama’s Attic brings much needed cultural history during BHM


Denaya Lewis

“We need to look in the past to see what we can accomplish in the future.” Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

When you think of Black History Month, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, etc. While those stories are important, we hear them year after year.

We almost never look at the rich African American history right in our own backyard. Mama’s Attic is a new Black History Culture Center which focuses on Omaha’s Black history.

It promotes learning and preserves Black culture for everyone to see.

Lavon Stennis is the woman behind the magic. Her love for Black history and lack of community resources inspired her to start educating children and encouraging them to learn about their own history.

“Everybody will learn something different, but I hope they will walk away with a better understanding of what that particular moment in African American history was about,” said Stennis.

Her ultimate goal is to motivate everyone who visits to look into Black history, Omaha history, and their own personal history. Rosie the Riveter is the face of the feminism movement, but all of our grandmothers were riveters too. Martin Luther King is the face of the civil rights movement, but our grandfathers were activists too.

There is something for everyone to learn. Currently, the museum is showcasing “Little people who made a big impact on America” through March 30. You can reserve a ticket by emailing mamasattic1952@gmail.com to make a reservation.

When we talk about the civil rights movement, we forget that young adults were an integral part. Kids and young adults have always been the face of change. People our age brought national attention to the civil rights movement.

Of all the similarities from the BLM movement and the Civil Rights Movement, we overlook that in both cases the majority of protests were run by young adults. Change starts in the heart of the young. Mama’s Attic helps us to recognize the potential of the urban youth.

“Hopefully [the younger people] will be able to say, ‘I dont like whats going on in Omaha, I can make a difference’” said Stennis.

We need to look in the past to see what we can accomplish in the future. The Little Rock Nine, the Greensboro four, all draw parallels to youth activists in Omaha. This center encourages young people to stand up for themselves and for social justice.

When Covid lifts, the center plans to open its doors and engage everyone in hands-on activities.

It is a great place to start learning about Black history, but don’t let it be your last. Go to your local library and museums, and continue to learn important history that shapes the future.