A History of The Omaha Guide

A History of The Omaha Guide

There have been more than a dozen Omaha-based, Black-owned and Black-focused newspapers throughout Omaha’s history. One of them was run by C.C. Galloway (1890-1958), a businessman and determined entrepreneur in North Omaha. A lot of the research on NorthOmahaHistory.com comes from his newspaper. This is a history of The Omaha Guide.

Starting in the 1870s, Omaha had Black newspapers specifically focused on serving the community. The previous one was the New Era, which shut down in 1926. A premier Black-owned newspaper for Omaha’s Black community, it was preceded by The Omaha Progress, which was run by Rev. Dr. John Albert Williams.

Along with two other editors, C.C. Galloway (Charles Chapman) started his own in 1926. The other founding editors were Gaines T. Bradford and Mason Devereaux. C.C. was a minister in North Omaha. Focused on local, state, and national news, The Guide featured regular columns about church activities, women’s news, a column for waiters, and African American society news. Printed a few times every week, subscriptions cost $2 annually. That year, a short-lived Black-owned paper called The New Era closed and Galloway wanted to fill the hole, so along with fellow founders Herman J. Ford and B. V. Galloway launched The Omaha Guide. left the paper in 1938 to start the Omaha Star.

Within a year of The New Era ending, The Omaha Guide had a circulation of 25,000, featuring national news along with local and state politics and North Omaha’s cultural life. Mildred Brown started running the advertising department there. The Omaha Guide ran from 1927 to 1958, the year Charles Galloway died.

Featuring local stories highlighting news for the Black community, in 1948 Galloway featured Elizabeth Davis Pittman, the only “colored woman attorney” in Nebraska history who went into practice with her father Charles Davis. The paper wrote about attorney John Adams, Jr. when he keynoted at the Dreamland Ballroom while running for the Nebraska State Legislature. The paper’s “Illustrated Feature Section” was innovative, and provided a number of important series for Omaha’s Black community.

The Omaha Colored Baseball League (c1922-c1934).
The Omaha Colored Baseball League ran from around 1922 to around 1934. Some of the players shown in this pic include Doc Manager, Soup Lawson, Wan Young, and “Little Soup” Lawson. The team often played in a sandlot at North 24th and Seward Street. Pic from the Omaha Guide courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

The paper also rallied against Jim Crow in Omaha and advocated for the city’s Civil Rights movement. Highlighting struggles throughout the city, in 1932 they called out the US Supreme Court for unfair rulings against Black people, and in 1941 they reported on racism in military recruiting in Omaha. In the early 1950s, C.C. Galloway met with the DePorres Club to teach them about the Black media, asserting how important it was to achieving Civil Rights.

The paper was also a boon for North Omaha businesses, promoting Black-owned and Black-serving establishments throughout the community. During the 1930s, The Guide was the largest African-American newspaper west of the Missouri River, focusing on social and political views rare elsewhere.

Omaha Guide F.L. Barnett banner 1932
The Omaha Guide ran this banner when Ferdinand L. Barnett died in 1932.

The marketing and sales department of The Guide succeeded in developing an advertisers’ list with businesses from coast to coast. In 1937, North Omaha icon Mildred Gilbert-Brown (1905-1989) started making her name in Omaha when The Guide hired her as the advertising director for the paper. Moving to the city with her husband S. Edward Gilbert (1903-1976), they expanded advertisers and subscriptions dramatically. Within a year there were 20,000 nationwide subscribers to the paper.

However, the couple didn’t like the old Republican politics of the newspaper, and in 1938 they started their own, which continues running today. The papers competed for almost 20 years afterward, with The Star emerging the victor. Focusing on positive local news, Mildred Brown built a legacy with the churches, organizations, and individuals who made North Omaha thrive. Taking five other Guide employees with her to her new paper when she left, Galloway was reportedly spiteful towards Brown for the rest of his life, including keeping her excluded from joining North Omaha’s upscale African American society circles for the rest of her life.

Doctors Make Purchase of Land, Omaha Star, June 15, 1945
This June 15, 1945 pic from the Omaha Star shows the doctors who bought the land where Provident Hospital was to be built. They included Dr. Craig Morris, Mrs. Gooden, Dr. Wiggins, Atty. Charles Davis, Mr. Hiram D. Dee, Mr. C. C. Galloway, Dr. Gooden and Dr. Milton Johnson. C.C. Galloway was key to this failed initiative to build a Black-owned and focused hospital in North Omaha.

Galloway tried relying on North Omaha’s business people and others, but failed, and after he passed away in 1958 his paper died too. He’s buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery.

Today, there are few memories of C.C. Galloway or The Guide. However, in 2018, the Galloway family descendants of C.C. Galloway were presented the Janice Gilmore Mildred D. Brown Legacy Award by the Mildred D. Brown Memorial Study Center for their patriarch’s role in the community. Inspired to start her paper because of Galloway, the center operating in honor of Brown honored Galloway, too. There are no permanent memorials to Galloway in the community today though.

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BONUS!

Ritz Theatre, North Omaha, Nebraska
In 1939, the Ritz Theatre got a new canopy that was featured in the Omaha Guide.

2 responses to “A History of The Omaha Guide”

  1. Hi, I am a librarian in Wahoo Nebraska & we have a section of “The Omaha Guide” dated February 3, 1934. I realize the historical value of this paper & would like to give it to an organization.
    Please let me know if you would like the paper & if so where I could send it. Thank you.
    Denise Lawver, Director Wahoo Public Library

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Denise, and thanks for your note. Luckily, the Omaha Guide is available online through the Library of Congress. However, since physical copies are extremely rare you might contact the Great Plains Black History Museum and offer it for their collection. You can find their contact info online. Good luck!

      Like

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