A Biography of Mildred Brown by Jody Lovallo

Mildred D. Brown (1905–1989)

Adam’s Note: This is a guest post by Jody Lovallo, an administrator of the Omaha History Club. Its a great overview of Mrs. Brown’s life; for more info see the links at the bottom.

Mildred Brown (1905–1989) was an unstoppable force in North Omaha history. As a matter of fact, Mildred Brown was an unstoppable force in the history of the whole Midwest.

Mildred D. Brown (1905–1989)
Mildred D. Brown (1905–1989) shown in the late 1960s with her trademark carnation bouquet.

She was both an award winning journalist and business woman. She and her husband founded and ran the Omaha Star, a newspaper by and for the African-American community.

She divorced him in 1943 and by 1945, was managing the business alone. By this time, it was the only African-American newspaper in Nebraska.

Not only was she a noted publisher and journalist, she was a leader of the Civil Rights movement in Omaha during the 1960s. She used the newspaper as a platform for civil rights and housing discrimination. She refused to sell ads to any business that discriminated.

The Omaha Star building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Joe Kinney.
The Omaha Star building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Joe Kinney.

Due to her strong influence in the city in the 60s, President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as a goodwill ambassador to East Germany.

Brown was one of only three women inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame. She was posthumously inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame (2007) and the newly instituted Omaha Press Club Journalism of Excellence Hall of Fame (2008). It’s assumed that the Omaha Star is the one of the few American newspapers founded by a black woman.

In 2007 the Omaha Star Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the newspaper’s significance in the history of Omaha, journalism, and the civil rights movement.

Mildred lived in an apartment above the Star offices until her death in 1998. Her niece, Dr. Marguerita Washington, maintained leadership of the newspaper after that, and the newspaper continues today.

Today the Mildred D. Brown Study Center on North 24th Street and its small park next to it commemorates her legacy in the community.

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General: History of Racism | Timeline of Racism
Events: Juneteenth | Malcolm X Day | Congress of White and Colored Americans | George Smith Lynching | Will Brown Lynching | North Omaha Riots | Vivian Strong Murder | Jack Johnson Riot
Issues: African American Firsts in Omaha | Police Brutality | North Omaha African American Legislators | North Omaha Community Leaders | Segregated Schools | Segregated Hospitals | Segregated Hotels | Segregated Sports | Segregated Businesses | Segregated Churches | Redlining | African American Police | African American Firefighters | Lead Poisoning
People: Rev. Dr. John Albert Williams | Edwin Overall | Harrison J. Pinkett | Vic Walker | Joseph Carr | Rev. Russel Taylor | Dr. Craig Morris | Mildred Brown | Dr. John Singleton | Ernie Chambers | Malcolm X
Organizations: Omaha Colored Commercial Club | Omaha NAACP | Omaha Urban League | 4CL (Citizens Coordinating Committee for Civil Rights) | DePorres Club | Omaha Black Panthers | City Interracial Committee | Providence Hospital | American Legion | Elks Club | Prince Hall Masons | BANTU
Related: Black History | African American Firsts | A Time for Burning

Elsewhere Online


Carnation Ballroom, N. 24th and Miami Streets, North Omaha, Nebraska
Located at N. 24th and Miami, the Carnation Ballroom was a center of nightlife in North Omaha. It was started by Mildred Brown to be a safe, alcohol-free place the community could enjoy national acts. This pic is from 1967, after the Carnation was closed. The building still stands.

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