Inclusive Communities is a non-profit, human relations organization confronting prejudice, bigotry and discrimination through educational programs that raise awareness, foster leadership and encourage advocacy for a just and inclusive society.
Founded in 1938 as The National Conference for Community and Justice of the Midlands (NCCJ), Inclusive Communities is dedicated to the purpose of building communities where every man, woman and child can live in dignity, peace and mutual respect. Over eighty years ago, leaders from different faiths refused to be bystanders in the face of hatred, intolerance, bigotry, fear and deeply embedded prejudice.
These leaders came together nationally in response to organized campaigns of hatred spreading throughout America. The Ku Klux Klan was active in most areas across the country, directing vicious bigotry towards Catholics, Jews, blacks and “foreigners.” The rise of Hitler and Nazism spawned hate groups targeting Jews at a time when anti-Semitism was already overt and pervasive. Al Smith was subjected to hatemongering when he ran for President because he was Catholic. Acknowledging the need for action, leaders including Teddy Roosevelt, Benjamin Cardozo, Jane Addams, and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, created The National Conference for Christians and Jews, NCCJ. They mobilized citizens against the forces of violence, ignorance and exclusion, and contributed significantly to an expanded definition of “who is an American.” In 1938 in Omaha, Nebraska, local leaders also refused to be bystanders.
Otto Swanson, owner of the Nebraska Clothing Company, was visited in his office by a fellow businessman. He listened with growing disbelief and indignation while the man told him of the formation of an organization tin Omaha that would promote a secret boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. The group would encourage patronage to the benefit of Swanson’s store because it was “Christian owned.” After Swanson showed the visitor out, he sat back and considered what had just occurred. He is quoted as saying, “I couldn’t believe anything like that could happen, not in the United States and certainly not in Omaha.” Otto Swanson determined the need to work for the cause of human understanding…the element he knew would contribute to the end of religious and racial bigotry. Swanson, along with W. Dale Clark, banker; Milton Livingston, businessman; and Ralph Svoboda, attorney, joined with other leading citizens and established the Midlands NCCJ chapter, now known as the Inclusive Communities.
Since 1938, this organization has served Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota by directing its efforts in the areas of youth, community and workplace human relations, leadership programming to achieve its mission of creating inclusive communities.