“Willie Barney, one of Omaha’s ‘most significant leaders…”

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Willie Barney, one of Omaha’s ‘most significant leaders,’ is constantly bridging the city’s dividing lines of geography, race and social class…

Wearing his standard uniform of suit coat and slacks, Willie Barney held open a college lecture hall door, greeting the teenagers streaming out.

“Looking good, man. Good morning. Good morning. Looking good, looking good,” Willie said to the 14- and 15-year-olds who had, as instructed, come dressed for the occasion: a career fair.

Willie had incorporated this career fair into a summer jobs program he helped launch almost a decade ago. And the day’s event at the University of Nebraska at Omaha offered an important firsthand look at the possibilities that awaited these youths, mostly low-income African-American teenagers. Plus it was the youths’ first real test at trying out the firm handshake, the confident ‘Hi-my-name-is’ introduction, and a dressier look.

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