Great Plains Black History Museum supporters seek inclusion in city budget
August 28th, 2014
Omaha, NE — If you log on to the City of Omaha’s tourism website, don’t expect to find the Great Plains Black History Museum listed among the 11 attractions included under the museums tab. That’s something James Beatty and Terri Sanders hope to change.
“We feel that as we move forward, we should be a line item on this city’s budget,” said Sanders, vice president of marketing and development at GPBH Museum. “We are contributors to the economics of the city and as we go forward we plan to do more than that. This is just the beginning.”
Councilman Ben Gray proposed that $40,000 of Omaha’s 2015 budget be allotted to the museum. The council approved the amendment with a 4-3 vote during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Mayor Jean Stothert may still decide to veto the funding. If so, Councilman Gray will seek to overturn her decision.
“It is a city jewel, and it should be treated as a city jewel,” Gray said. “The significance of the history of African Americans and Africans in the Omaha community and the state of Nebraska is extremely important.”
He said that with Omaha being the home of the College World Series, the council should do more to make sure it supports attractions that coincide with the annual event. The museum partners with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City to bring an exhibit that focuses on the history and achievements of black baseball players.
“We ought to be sponsors to a certain extent on some of the things that go on around it[College World Series] including the Black Baseball exhibit that comes with the College World Series the last three years,” Gray said.
Beatty said the funding will be used to host new exhibits and promote tourism within the city.
“If the mayor vetoes that, we hope we would have the five votes to overturn that. That’s what we’re planning on at this point,” Beatty said.
Beatty and Sanders said that a variety of people visit the museum, which is currently located at Crossroads Mall.
“We are for the entire city of Omaha. We are not just for north Omaha,” Sanders said. “We have visitors from as far away as Russia come into our exhibit space. People from California, Michigan and Kansas City as well as zip codes represented from around the metropolitan metro area and Iowa. I think it’s significant that we are contributors and we are providing information to everyone.”
Stothert is currently reviewing the amendments to the 2015 budget, which totals $808 million. Councilman Gray expects to receive word about the $40,000 museum proposal Thursday.
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