In the Summer of 2018, a film crew accompanied “Black Votes Matter”, a group of students and community members from the Omaha area, as they journeyed to Montgomery, Alabama to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a museum sponsored by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). It was during this visit that The Will Brown Project was born.
Engraved across one of eight hundred monuments; symbolizing thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States and the counties and states where that terrorism took place; is Douglas County, NE and beneath those letters are the names of two men, one being William Brown.
If you were to ask the average Omaha resident if they were familiar with the name William Brown; the overwhelming response would be no; which should come as a surprise, as Mr. William Brown is a key figure in American history, let alone Omaha’s history. A photo of William Brown’s beaten, mutilated and charred body is famously depicted throughout the United States and readily available in online searches; however, the fact that his life was ended on the steps of the Douglas County courthouse is something that would come as a shock to a majority of Omaha natives.
The Will Brown Project follows and documents the efforts of the Omaha, Nebraska community, its leaders and members as they join EJI’s Community Remembrance Project “to recognize the victims of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites, erecting historical markers, and creating a national memorial that acknowledges the horrors of racial injustice.”
Leading this effort is The Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, a coalition of Omaha’s non-profits, religious organizations and community leaders. The coalition has determined September 28th, 2019, the 100th year anniversary of the death of William Brown; should serve as the day to unveil the memorial.