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By:  Willie Barney
Revive! Omaha Magazine

May 27, 2020

In response to the murder of George Floyd and the continuous senseless violence against black men.

Stay Strong.  A New Day is Coming.

Reality. America has had its knee on the neck of black men since its beginning. Slavery. 3/5th of a man. Jim Crow. Redlining. Prison industrial complex. Destruction of lives, families and property. Now, it’s being televised and broadcast daily on social media. Can you imagine what was happening before the cameras began to capture this reality? Even with cameras on, it is still happening.

And for those that always raise the “what about black on black crime” flag every time incidents like this happen, we are just as concerned anytime a person loses their life to any kind of violence. But make no mistake, when you see people who are sworn to protect and serve, use their power to murder a man on the street, it also calls for an immediate response and call for justice. And after investing nearly 15 years in a fight to end gun violence, I’ve come to realize that even the everyday street violence is a byproduct of neglect, racism, disinvestment and systemic oppression.

I am tired of the devastating deaths, threats and falsified accusations. I’m praying for the family of George Floyd and all of those impacted by this straight out racism, senseless violence, hatred and murder. The officers should be arrested and charged.

Even in the midst of COVID 19 and these repetitive tragedies, I fully believe that 2020 is a turning point. From the excruciating pain and suffering, will come revival, restoration and revitalization. We will not stay down for much longer.

Stay strong brothers, sisters and allies. I’ve read a lot of posts of frustration, anger, exasperation and some that appear to be overwhelmed and want to give up. We’ve come too far to give up now.

The middle passage didn’t destroy us. Slavery didn’t destroy us. Jim Crow didn’t destroy us. Segregation didn’t destroy us. Senseless violence will not destroy us. Always remember, we are gifted, resilient, overcomers, kings and queens. Our time is coming.

These deaths will not be in vain. Together, we will solve this. Our history and my life experiences tell me it’s possible to create change. We’ve been able to move the dial here. While not perfect and there’s always more work to do, we have collectively built stronger relationships and we will keep doing so. A new day is coming. Stay strong.

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Community Features

24th & Lake Holiday Schedule. Shop. Eat. Play. Sing. Enjoy.

Building on ten years of success with Christmas in the Village, the Empowerment Network, OEDC, Revive, FHAS, Omaha Star and 30 plus businesses, venues and organizations have come together to plan and host a great series of events for the Holidays.

The businesses are sending an open invitation for families, friends, neighbors and the whole community to come down and celebrate the holiday season and support small black businesses.

“We have something for all ages,” said Willie Barney, CEO of the Empowerment Network and co-owner of the Revive Center and Carver Legacy Center in the district.

“It’s an opportunity to continue the positive momentum at 24th and Lake, provide some fun activities for children and families and continue the development of our business, food, arts, culture and entertainment district.”

Friday, November 26th is Black Friday in the Village.  Shoppers are encourage to visit and shop at all of the stores in the Village.  Most of the stores are offering 20% off this weekend, including special deals, discounts and gift cards.

Saturday, November 27th is a great day to celebrate Small Business Saturday and support Black-owned businesses.  Stores are once again offering 20% discounts and there will be a holiday lighting ceremony starting at 4:30 pm at Dreamland Park.  Music will be provided by Millicent Crawford and Big Wade.  Trolley rides will be available from 1 to 5 pm.

Next Saturday, December 4th, is the 11th Annual Christmas in the Village at 24th and Lake.  Over 50 organizations and dozens of businesses come together annually to host the event which has become the largest community celebration and holiday tradition in North Omaha.  Visitors from all over the region attend the event.  The hours are Noon to 5 pm with special activities for the whole family.

The Village at 24th and Lake Partners are also working with the community to host a series of events during Kwanzaa.  Stay connected on the Village facebook page.

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Community Features

Smiles & Sweets; Over 1,000 attend Trunk or Treat in the Village

Children and families celebrate, enjoy the activities at 24th and Lake

Great things are happening in the Village.  Businesses, venues and organizations are working together to create a great place to come together consistently for food, music, arts, entertainment and to support the small businesses in the area.

“Saturday was completely magical. Seeing the kids dressed up and the adults getting engaged as they played the games and got candy was wonderful,” said Cynthia Hume, site manager for OEDC’s Fair Deal Village.   “I’m thankful for the partners of The Village at 24th and Lake who collaborated to host another successful event.”

In early September, partners developed a calendar of events for the fall and winter season in the Village.  The first two major events have been well attended and received rave reviews from the community.

“Fall Fest was a huge success with 500 in attendance and then, two weeks later the Trunk or Treat had over 1,000,” said Willie Barney, CEO of the Empowerment Network and Co-owner of the Revive Center and Carver Legacy Center, all located in the Village.  “It was a beautiful day and the kids really enjoyed themselves. It is always a blessing to see so many families in the Village.”

Most of the event was focused on the 20 plus stops where kids could get free candy.

Kids definitely went home with their pumpkins, buckets and goodie bags full.

Ital Vital Living took it even further by creating a haunted house which drew a crowd and some surprises for the visitors.

“My mom built the haunted house from scratch.  I could definitely hear some screams coming from inside,” said Latisha Taylor, one of the co-owners at Ital Vital.  “Overall, the kids had a good time.  We think we will have to go even bigger next year.”

In addition to the bountiful candy and haunted house, families could make arts and crafts at the Union, play small carnival games at OEDC, listen to the DJ at Dreamland Park, take a tour of the Great Plains Black History Museum and purchase cinnamon rolls, caramel apples and peach cobbler at the Revive Center.

“We had another big turnout, with 300 visitors at the Great Plains,” said Eric Ewing, executive director at the Great Plains Black History Museum.

Members of the Omaha Police Department, Black Police Officers Association and Douglas County Sheriff candidate Wayne Hudson were also handing out candy and interacting with the community.

“This is great for the officers to engage in a positive way with the community and for the kids just to come outside and enjoy themselves in a safe and positive environment,” said Sgt. Marcus Taylor of the BPOA.

The event was also an opportunity to stay informed and get connected with important health resources.

Visitors were able to pick up health information and swag from UNMC, get their vaccination from Douglas County at IMA’s MLK Park and listen to African-American Mocha Docs speak about keeping safe from COVID and the importance of getting vaccinated.

“Saturday was amazing on the northwest corner of 24th & Lake Street, the IMA’s MLK Park as IMA pastors gave out candy to hundreds of children and the DCHD Vaccination Team administered vaccination shots,” said Pastor Portia Cavitt, Senior Pastor or Clair Memorial UMC and President of the IMA.  “Through much prayer and scientific knowledge, we have the power of prevention!”

“To see the families and the smiles on the faces of the children, that’s what it is all about for me,” said Barney.  “It reminds me of my own childhood going to Harvest Festivals with my family.”

“It’s also a great way to connect the community to the exciting things happening in the district.  Many of them tell us they didn’t know there were so many businesses, opportunities and resources here at 24th and Lake and they definitely plan to come back.”

It was another beautiful day in the Village at 24th and Lake.  Momentum is building.  The next big event will be the 11th Annual Christmas in the Village on Saturday, December 4th.

Stay connected with future events here.


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The Revive Center is Now Open for Lunch: Tues-Sat.

Thank you for your support during our soft opening and reopening.  The Revive Center is now open featuring the Champions Cafe with Darnell Relford and Feeding Royals with Wes Zollicoffer and Danita Murray.  Linda McKleny with Ms. Linda’s Cafe and Chef Jamil owner of House of Bah and other African-American and North Omaha chefs and cooks will also be featured during special events.  Learn more here.

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