Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Omer Abdalla

By USCRI February 8, 2022

His name in Arabic translates to “The One Who Builds,” and Dr. Omer Abdalla Omer, USCRI North Carolina Field Office Director, has lived up to his name’s meaning. Omer, who was born in Sudan, has dedicated his life to building refugee and immigrant communities, both in the United States and abroad.

“That’s been my life,” he said. “I just felt that I did my part because I know what it means to be a refugee.”

Omer was working for Sudan’s national television as a journalist before a military junta took over the country in a 1989 coup. He fled to Libya where he lived for a year and a half before moving to the United Kingdom in 1991. There, in London, Omer worked as a case manager helping refugees from Iraq before moving to the United States in 1995, where he continued serving refugees groups.

He previously worked for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS), and Omer also worked with the University of North Carolina – Greensboro for an AmeriCorp ACCESS project at the Center for New North Carolinians, as well as the North Carolina African Services Coalition.

In 2013, Omer decided to move abroad to work with refugees in East Africa and the Middle East. During his time there he worked for several humanitarian and development organizations. He moved back to the U.S. in 2021 when he began his position at USCRI.

Omer has received numerous awards over the years for his service. He was the winner of the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for Race Relations in 2010. He was also the subject of a documentary film about his life titled, “The One Who Builds.”

“I try to make a difference in some people’s lives,” Omer said. “I’m happy [with my career]. I’m so proud of it.”

Omer believes it is important to celebrate Black History Month to recognize the accomplishments of both African Americans and Black refugees and immigrants, as well as the struggles for freedom and civil rights that both have endured.

“For me, it’s an important month to have, [but] it’s still a job unfinished,” he said.


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