Some leaders have been loud and brash, leaving visible and audible marks across North Omaha through the years, making sure others pay attention to them still today. Others worked in more subtle ways that left substantial impacts on the community. This is a biography of Millard F. Singleton (1859-1939).
Born in Virginia in 1859, Millard Singleton moved to Omaha with his brother Walter (c. 1860-1933) in 1883. He and his wife Blanche (1862-1940) had five children:
- Bessie May
- Millard F. Jr (called Guy)
He was a lifetime member of St. Philips Episcopal Church, and served as an officer on the church board.
Millard was very involved as a community leader throughout North Omaha. Singleton was elected vice president of the Omaha Colored Republican Club in 1889. In the years afterwards, he was constantly leading political organizing across the state. In 1890, he was a co-founder of the Nebraska branch of the Afro-American League and the Nebraska representative to the national convention of the organization.
In 1895, Singleton was named the first-ever African American Justice of the Peace in the Eighth Ward in Omaha.
Singleton was the Republican nominee to replace Dr. Matthew Ricketts in the Nebraska Legislature in 1896. After losing he helped form the Progressive League of Douglas County, and was a candidate for Legislature again in 1912, but lost once more. Singleton’s family continued as political leaders in the state for another generation. The next African American member of the legislature would not be elected until 1926.
Throughout his life, Singleton was closely aligned with a variety of community leaders throughout North Omaha, including Rev. John A. Williams, Dr. Matthew Ricketts, and others.
His influence on his children was not lost, and several were active throughout the community, including his son Dr. John A. Singleton, DDS. The young doctor served a term the Nebraska Legislature in 1927-1928.
On the evening of April 16, 1930, two men placed an iron cross covered with oil-soaked burlap on Dr. Singleton’s lawn and set it on fire. John was away, but his wife and niece were there. Millard arrived shortly and tore down the cross in front of a large crowd.
Millard F. Singleton died on November 12, 1939 and buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
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- “Millard F. Singleton” on Wikipedia
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