The sole African American State Senator in the Nebraska Legislature during the Civil Rights movement, North Omaha’s Edward Danner was a tireless and determined advocate for social change. His legacy is still felt today.
Edward R. Danner (1900-1970) was youngest son of Mack and Annie Danner of Oklahoma. He moved to Omaha as a young man to become a butcher, and eventually he a union leader in the South Omaha meatpacking industry before he became a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature.
A butcher with Swift and Company by trade, Danner became field representative for the United Packinghouse Workers’ Union in the 1960s, and then vice-president of Local 47 in the South Omaha packinghouses. He retired in 1965.
In politics, Danner was a Democrat who represented the 11th District in North Omaha, and served in the Legislature from 1963 to 1970. In 1963, he spoke at Nebraska’s first civil rights march in Lincoln. Edward Danner was a member of the Nebraska Legislature from 1963 until his death in office in 1970.
Danner was born on February 14, 1900 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and died on Janurary 1, 1970 in Lincoln.
Senator Danner sponsored four pieces of legislation and co-sponsored several others. He led an amendment to the state civil rights law to clarify and broaden the scope of its public accommodations coverage. Other legislative successes included outlawing restrictions on mixed marriages and increasing worker’s comp. His repeated attempts to pass legislation on fair employment weren’t passed; however, the legislature passed the 1969 Fair Housing Act in response to his advocacy.
After Danner died suddenly in office in 1970, George W. Althouse was appointed to fulfill his term. He lived at 2870 Pinkney Street.North Omaha showed a great deal of respect to Danner while he was alive and after his sudden passing in 1970. Tributes include:
- The Kountze Place neighborhood was renamed in his honor in the 1970s
- The area’s advocacy group is called the E. R. Danner Neighborhood Association today
- A memorial scholarship was offered in his name for several years by the Wesley House United Methodist Community Center
- The Urban League of Nebraska offered an award in his name
- The Florence Mills Plaza in Kountze Place is also referred to as Edward R. Danner Plaza
- In 1970, Augustana Lutheran Church named a facility the Sen. Edward R. Danner Memorial Daycare Center
- The Zion Baptist Church offered the E.R. Danner Memorial Scholarship
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MY ARTICLES ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN LEGISLATORS FROM NORTH OMAHA:
PEOPLE: Dr. Matthew Ricketts (1893–1897) | Dr. John A. Singleton (1926–1928) | Ferdinand L. Barnett (1927-1928) | Dr. Aaron M. McMillan (1929-1930) | Johnny Owen (1932-1935) | John Adams, Jr. (1935-1941) | John Adams, Sr. (1949-1962) | Edward Danner (1963-1970) | George W. Althouse (1970) | Ernie Chambers (1971–2009, 2013–2020) | Brenda J. Council (2009-2013) | Tanya Cook (2009-2016) | Justin Wayne (2017-present) | Terrell McKinney (202 0-present)
- “Biography of Senator Edward Danner” by Quin Slovek with Drake H., Serena B. and Ezmi B. for Omaha Public Schools Making Invisible Histories Visible project
- “Sen. Edward Danner,” official Nebraska Legislature website
- “The African Americans, Many Rivers to Cross – Episode 4: Gone to Oklahoma,” a 2013 PBS show that highlights Danner’s Oklahoma family.