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Phyllis Hicks

Newspaper marketing director and nonprofit administrator Phyllis Jean Mosley Hicks was born on March 7, 1943 in Omaha, Nebraska to Juanita Agee Mosley and James P. Mosley, Jr. Hicks’ civic-minded grandmother, Emma Lee Agee, was a 1919 member of the church pastored by Reverend Earl Little (Malcolm X’s father) and was a childhood friend of the National Baptist Convention’s controversial Reverend Joseph H. Jackson, as well as Whitney M. Young, Jr. Her paternal grandfather Rev. J. P. Mosley Sr. led a demonstration to integrate the swimming pools in 1954 in Chillicothe, Missouri. Whitney M. Young was president of the Omaha Urban League, where Hick's mother worked as his personal secretary. Her mother played trumpet in an all girl band and her father was a saxophone player. Hicks studied piano and voice for several years and she was a member of the Elks Drill Team. She attended Long and Howard Kennedy elementary schools. Hicks was a member of NAACP Youth Chapter, worked on the school paper and was a member of the journalism club and the yearbook staff at Omaha Technical High School. Graduating in 1961, she attended Peru State Teachers College.

Married in 1963, Hicks took a job with the Power Electric Company and volunteered for Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Centers, Inc. (OIC). Hired by OIC in 1967, she produced eight pageants for the organization in addition to serving in as instructor and in an administrative role for thirty years. Hicks joined Sitel Corporation in 1998 as a quality assurance representative and trainer. Employed at CSG Systems, Inc., she served as product support analyst through 2005 when she retired.

Marketing director for the "Omaha Star," the oldest and only African American newspaper in Omaha, Hicks also writes a column called “It’s Just My Opinion” for the publication. She is the founder and mentor to “The Stepping Saints,” a local drill team. Hicks is the recipient of the Woman of the Year, the Black Heritage Award, OIC’s Thirty Year Service Award and the City of Omaha’s Living the Dream Award at the 2002 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

Phyllis Hicks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 5, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.279

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/5/2007

Last Name

Hicks

Maker Category
Schools

Howard Kennedy Elementary School

Omaha Technical High School

Peru State College

Creighton University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Phyllis

Birth City, State, Country

Omaha

HM ID

HIC03

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Nebraska

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nebraska

Birth Date

3/7/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Omaha

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Nonprofit administrator and newspaper marketing director Phyllis Hicks (1943 - ) was the marketing director and columnist for the Omaha Star newspaper. She volunteered for thirty years for the Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Centers, Inc.

Employment

Power Solutions Electric Company

Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc.

Sitel Corporation

CSG Systems, Inc.

Omaha Star

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Phyllis Hicks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks talks about Malcolm X's family in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks describes her maternal grandmother's civic involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks describes her mother's community in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks describes her family's civil rights activism

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks describes her mother's work for Whitney Young

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks describes her parents' interests in music

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks talks about the role of music in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks describes her early activities

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Phyllis Hicks remembers her stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks remembers the St. Martin de Porres Club

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks recalls the basketball team at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks remembers Technical High School in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks recalls her decision to attend Peru State Teachers College in Peru, Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks remembers Peru State Teachers College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks recalls singing at Peru State Teachers College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks describes the Civil Rights Movement in Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks talks about Nebraska's Native American community

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Phyllis Hicks remembers reading African American publications

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks recalls her maternal ancestors' experiences after moving to Omaha

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks describes the start of her career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks recalls working for the Opportunities Industrialization Centers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks describes her projects at the Opportunities Industrialization Centers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks describes her later career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks talks about writing for the Omaha Star, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks talks about writing for the Omaha Star, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks talks about the police shooting of Vivian Strong

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks recalls the black business district in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks talks about the African American community in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Phyllis Hicks describes the start of her career
Phyllis Hicks talks about writing for the Omaha Star, pt. 1
Transcript
After you got married [to Alonzo Hicks], you kind of dropped out of Peru [Peru State Teachers College; Peru State College, Peru, Nebraska] for a while and--$$Um-hm.$$Well, what did you do?$$I worked at the Power District [Omaha Public Power District], got involved in the politics down there because all of the black, except for two women who had been there for years, worked in the mail room, so I started my campaign. I got that job because my roommate in college, her stepfather was an engineer there, and he had gotten--they got me the job 'cause I had college--in the mail room, you know? And so I, I rebelled. When we used to have to go, there was a plant that was about six blocks; we'd take the mail up there twice a day, then we'd have to go out and wait on a bus to take the bus to go to another plant--it was on 43rd Street. And they said before I came, they used to have to even go down by the river to take that mail, and they'd be on the bus and you're standing out here, and one day it was raining cats and dogs, and they'd give you galoshes and a raincoat and umbrella to go carry this satchel of mail. I told her, "I am not going." This is what--I say, "I have been driving since I'm ten years old, and you have all those cars down there in the garage that belong to OPPD [Omaha Public Power District]. I am not going out in this rain to carry mail or anything else. Now, you can do what you got to do." So (laughter), they took me in to the vice president's office. I said, "I'm not going." I said, "Now, if you want the job, you got it." And he (laughter), he said, "Well, we'll get somebody to carry it; it is raining kind of hard." And from that day on, the women didn't have to take the bus no more. They--he'd started using the couriers. They didn't let us drive, but they started using a courier service. So I guess I've always been a rebel. I just--you know, for wrong and injustice I just had to stand up and let it be known. And so I worked there until I decided to have a child. And in those days there was no such thing as pregnancy insurance, so I had to quit, and then you had to re-apply, but then I didn't wanna go back 'cause it's just--a lot of things had happened there that they discriminated against people, and it's so funny because one guy that started in the print shop there the same day I started, his name is Fred Petersen, ended up being the president of the power company. And we always kind of maintained a friendship through the years, and when he got his first check as president, he called and asked me to lunch and he said, "I just couldn't show this to nobody but you." He showed me his check, and you know, I had a lot of choice words for him. So anytime I needed anything, he owed me--I'd call, "Fred," (laughter), I'd say, "'cause you didn't know anything when you started. I helped you get your promotions." And so it was always a joke, but I said, "It's not a joke." But he ended up being president of the company. And so then I didn't go back to work there. I worked six months at an insurance company, and then they were starting what they called the OIC, Opportunities Industrialization Centers, Reverend Sullivan--Leon Sullivan's program (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right, right, in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], right.$$Okay, all right. I started--I quit my job with a six month-old baby [Wayne Hicks], and went to work for free.$Your column, It's My Opinion [ph.]? Is that--$$Um-hm.$$Okay. When did you start writing that?$$When I came--started working at the Star [Omaha Star]. I came--I retired (laughter) April 2000--April 15th, 2005, and I started working down here at the Star in June, so I retired a whole month and a half? (Laughter) And so then I'd been here for a little while, and I decided I would write this one particular story about the substandard and the government money going to the subsidized private business, and then after that, I started it. And I figure--I write it because it's what I think, I can say what I think, if you don't agree you can write back and say what you think, but that's my opinion whether you like it or not. So it gives me freedom to say what I really want, within reason (laughter).$$Okay. Now, what have been some of the issues that you've (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, there's a filling station, it's right at the base of where they're gonna start this new North Omaha [Omaha, Nebraska] plan, and it's a Sinclair [Sinclair Oil Corporation] station, and I just happened to--I needed gas, I was coming from city hall, and I went up Dodge [Street], and I said, "Well, I won't go to that one, I'll go to one in the neighborhood," but I happened to look at it and I remember I say, "Well, you know, I'm really on empty," so I stopped and got gas, and then I came on down and I came down 24th [Street], and I got to the one on 24th and Cuming [Street], in a same Sinclair station, but the, the price was forty cents more a gallon. I say, "Wait a minute, something is wrong." So I drove all the way back to Dodge Street to look at it, so the--I was so mad, so I went into the--I stopped to come in there and speak to the manager. They say the manager wasn't there. I say, "Well, who decides who--what you sell the gas for?" Well, I guess they said the manager. I said, "Well, I wanna talk to the manager." So I just couldn't sleep. I got up that next morning bright and early; took my camera, went and took pictures of the one that I got gas from, came down to the one that was in North Omaha, and took pictures of that one being forty cents more a gallon and, and I asked the girl (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Forty cents less, I mean the one--$$More.$$Oh, the one--$$The one that I got gas (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, the first one, yeah. It was--that's--yeah, right, okay.$$On Dodge Street, it was off downtown. And so then I asked to speak to the manager, I left my name and number, they never called. So I wrote--I took pictures and showed it (laughter), and I put it--I wrote that in Just My Opinion. The manage- didn't--the manager or one of the employees wrote me an email, just real nasty, about that he's the nicest person, that I had no business doing that, and all, and he gave them jobs, and blah, blah, blah. Come to find out, under disguise, the manager was Hispanic--the owner is Hispanic, and had--and nobody knew he was Hispanic, and he called me and he said, "Can I meet with you?" I said, "Sure." He said, "I want you to change that story because I come and they told me not to meet and not to open up 'cause I would have all the--all this, and I don't make the money that the other station--I don't have a quick shop and I don't have--." I said, "Sir." He said, "What they're selling gas for--and they're still doing it, still. You go down there now and it's still forty cents more." And I said, "When you bought your gas and it was the same price as everybody else's gas, granted it may have gone up the next time you bought it, but are you gonna tell me that in two weeks that you bought your gas, your tanks were empty? That you had to raise your price?" "Yes, I had to--I don't make any money off the gas and, and, and you--I just made my money--," and he has a Subway. I say, "Well, you make it off the sandwiches. You're right at the bottom of the hill of Creighton [Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska]." And so he went on, and he just went on and said, "I want you to change that story." I said, "I'm not changing my story." And so he kept on and kept on, and I said, "I am not changing it." I say, "Now, if you wanna write something, your opinion, I'll put it in there, but I am not 'cause it's the fact. Is this not your store? Is this not your sign? This is not the one on Dodge--this is not their sign." So I made a call, and I called all--about seven more in Omaha [Nebraska]. Some of 'em would tell me their prices--most of 'em wouldn't over the phone. So I started going around looking at 'em, and so he changed it a little bit, but then he went right back. If you go there now, he's forty cents more. So--$$Okay.$$And I--you know, I just wrote it and I didn't go back and revisit it, which I probably should, because he's still doing it. And people pull up without even noticing, fill up their tanks, and they can go right down the street, or four blocks over, and get it for forty cents less a gallon.$$Okay.$$So that's what, that's what inspired me to write those two stories, and that's when I started writing my articles.