My grandfather had a business in North Omaha, where in the 1960s one summer there were some very destructive civil rights race riots.

In the wake of the looting and rioting going on in Minneapolis and around the country to protest the outrageous, tragic killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, my sister told me something that made me proud and yet at the same time very sad:

On the worst night of those riots in the ‘60s in Omaha, the business across the street from Grandpa’s was fire-bombed and destroyed. The business to the north of his was destroyed. The business to the south of his was also Molotov-cocktailed and destroyed.

The next day, the police told Grandpa that the word on the street was that, because he always hired local community residents, paid them well and treated them great, the rioters agreed that his business would be untouched that night. I guess Grandpa took his foreman out to lunch for his birthday one time, but the restaurant refused to serve the foreman because he was black. Grandpa raised a big stink and never went back there again. The employees respected him for that.

Of course I’m proud of Grandpa. Being spared that night was a badge of honor that he was an honorable man and in no way racist. But it also makes me very, very sad for all the other business owners out there who probably are every bit as fair as Grandpa was, but will not be so lucky this time.

Lawlessness used to have ethical standards, I guess. I’m very sad tonight. Right reason to protest . . . very, very wrong way to do it.


And Abraham drew near, and said,

Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

         — Genesis 18:23

By Susan Darst Williams • 5/29/2020 • • © 2020