Once named the “Negro mayor of Omaha,” Johnny Owen was a phenomonal athlete who became a designated leader in Omaha’s African American community from the 1930s through the 1950s.
Mr. Owen was a Democrat who served the Ninth District. He worked as a delivery driver when he was elected; later he worked in the Douglas County Assessor’s Office. Owen served in the Legislature from 1932 to 1935. An activist for civil rights, he occasionally found himself at odds with the Urban League and the NAACP.
He was born on February 11, 1907 in Newport, Arkansas, and died in Inglewood, California, on March 2, 1978.