Feed creativity. Grow community. North Omaha.
These words painted on the outside windows of Culxr House, on North 24th Street, embody what the community hub stands for.
Rapper and founder of Culxr House, Marcey Yates, noticed a lack of safe spaces for artists in the Omaha area. So, in late 2018, he started to create one himself.
Culxr House hosts community events, such as the Black Artist Expo. The exhibit, which ran from Feb. 24 through March 17, featured 11 local Black artists.
Events like this one serve to bring attention to the talented Black artists in the community.
“One thing I always want to do is make sure we are always showing that representation, A, of Black art, but just Black excellence,” Yates said.
While many businesses closed as COVID-19 spread across Nebraska in early 2020, Culxr House decided to keep its doors open, even though it had only opened a few months earlier. As the year progressed, Culxr House became an important site for the Black Lives Matter protests in Omaha.
During the protests, James Scurlock, 22, was shot and killed by an Old Market bar owner in downtown Omaha. According to Yates, he felt that justice was not served.
“Of course, [when] something like that happens in your backyard, folks are going to stand up, they’re going to fight for what’s right,” Yates said.
Culxr House recognized an opportunity to teach people how to peacefully protest and protect themselves if violence occurred. They also became a resource center for protestors.
“They could take a break from protesting, come eat, get hydrated, get your sunscreen, get first-aid kits. It was a lot, but it was something we were definitely ready for,” Yates said.
Aside from assisting with the protests, Culxr House wants to assist in bettering the community of North Omaha as a whole.
As a nonprofit, Culxr House has been recommended to receive funding from the Economic Recovery Grant program. Yates plans to use the money to redevelop the building Culxr House is currently in as well as purchase adjacent properties.
Those buildings will become businesses that address the needs of North Omaha, such as food insecurity.
As a kid growing up in North Omaha, Yates rarely had access to a food he loves, pizza.
“Growing up, you could never call Pizza Hut or Domino’s and have them come deliver. They’re too scared. It was just too violent of a neighborhood,” Yates said.
So, as part of the grant, he will open a pizza parlor later this year. As Yates continues to expand Culxr House and broaden its reach, he hopes that people recognize the talented individuals who live in his community.
“There’s a lot of talent between [Omaha] and Lincoln. Just give it a chance and embrace it, support it,” Yates said. “These things can’t grow unless it’s supported, and we have to support it. We have to cultivate it.”