Richard Artison and his daughter Lisa were excited when they read in The World-Herald that Minnie Brown Patton’s hotel was listed in the Green Book.
Minnie Brown Patton was the great-aunt of Richard Artison.
The Green Book was a listing of hotels, restaurants and other places black people could safely visit when traveling as recently as the 1960s. The movie “Green Book,” which highlights the plight of black people, was released to theaters in November.
The father-daughter team worked diligently from November through January developing profiles of Patton and 17 other individuals from north Omaha who achieved success in their respective livelihoods.
People like Richard Artison. He was a member of the U.S. Secret Service and continued to advance in his career over the years. He and his late wife, Charleszine Davis Artison, who died in 2017, made many moves during his career. In 1996, they returned to Omaha, and he became a law enforcement consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice until he retired in 2006.
He and his daughter donated the beautifully framed profiles to the Great Plains Black History Museum. They have identified 16 more individuals to be profiled for the next installment of the exhibit.
Artison said, “The individuals in this exhibit tenaciously overcame setbacks and difficult circumstances in their quests for success and did so in the era of the Green Book.”
Their goal is to have the profiles displayed so churches, schools and civic groups can expose black children as well as the greater Omaha community to these positive life stories from north Omaha.
“We want to help instill a sense of pride in the young people from north Omaha as well as young black children living in other parts of Omaha,” Artison said.
As parents, relatives and friends encourage young people and let them know they can achieve success, it is always good for them to see pictures and hear stories of black people who achieved so much while facing so many societal challenges.
Minnie Brown Patton was born in 1870 and was one of 13 children born to George and Rosie Brown. Five of their children died in childhood and her mother froze to death in the late 1880s. Minnie was the oldest surviving child and married Nicholas P. Patton. They moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and reared the remainder of her 8 brothers and sisters.
Patton was eventually transferred to Omaha. Minnie opened a restaurant at 13th and Pacific Streets, and later purchased property where the downtown post office is now situated. She built a hotel and named it the N.P. Patton hotel.
She operated the hotel until the late 1940s, when she sold the property. She bought more property and opened a rooming house at 25th and Erskine, which she had until she died.
She has been recognized as the first black businesswoman in Omaha, a founding member of St. John’s AME Church and the Iroquois Elks Lodge 92, Order of the Eastern Star in Omaha.
The Artisons had hoped the photos would be hung at the museum during Black History month. But Eric Ewing, executive director, had another idea: he instead plans to take advantage of Native Omahan Days, when many African-Americans from all parts of the country come to Omaha to celebrate their historical and cultural legacies with family and friends.
Ewing said, “I want to personally thank the Artisons for the artifacts of African-Americans in the Omaha community because it provides additional information for young people to know the importance of this part of town. I plan to have a special exhibit of the artifacts this summer for Native Omahan Days.”