NORTH OMAHA Press and Newspapers
African American newspapers have provided many services in Omaha. What are some of the most important?
The Omaha Star has been located at 2216 North 24th Street for all of its 73 years.
"No One Can Tell Our Story Like We Can."
-Dr. Marguerita Washington
Created by: McKenzie C., Kristen J., Lindsay B., and Catherine M.
Since the 1890's African-American newspapers have existed in Omaha. The purpose of the African-American newspapers were to give African-Americans pertinent information and hope. In 1922, the Monitor published the article, “Omaha's Colored Citizenry Alive and Progressive” to promote the African-American community. The article featured information about activities and current events such as churches, clubs, lodges, and other organizations, which demonstrated the liveliness of the community. By showing that African-Americans made up six percent of the population and owned property worth $2.5 million, the Monitor persuaded African-Americans to settle in Omaha during the Great Migration.
The Omaha Star is the oldest black-owned business in Omaha, continuously in operation since Mildred Brown founded the paper in 1938. The paper has been located at 2216 North 24th Street for all of its 73 years. Ms. Brown's niece, Dr. Marguerita Washington, has been running the paper since 1989. The Omaha Star is a weekly newspaper, published every Friday, and has over 30,000 subscribers in all 50 states.
Throughout their history, African-American newspapers sought to connect people of the community by reporting on its happenings, and promoting its members in a positive light. African-American newspapers often avoided reporting crimes, so as not to show the community in a negative way. In the past the The Omaha Star newspaper promoted the community with a “Family of the Week” section. This lighthearted section involved facts about the family and discussed why they were chosen. Today, African-American newspapers still provide a voice to the community, cover stories important to African-Americans, and bring attention to the good going on in the community.
Mildred Brown, the founder of The Omaha Star, was born in Bessemer, Alabama. She moved from Alabama to Sioux City, and started her first newspaper. Later she moved to Omaha to work for the Omaha Guide. In 1938, she decided to start her own newspaper and The Omaha Star was born. Ms. Brown started The Omaha Star so African-Americans could have a voice in the community and to give hope. Ms. Brown wanted the paper to provide a positive outlook on events in the African-American community; other media at the time only reported negative stories related to African-Americans. Additionally, segregation in Omaha and nation-wide wore down people's hope; the paper worked to uplift the community during challenging times. (Photo courtesy The Omaha Star)
Segregation, discrimination, and racism were not just southern issues; they were alive in the North as well. In Omaha, newspapers such as The Monitor and The Guide helped to bring attention to these issues in the early 20th century; by the late 1930s The Omaha Star was fighting the fight. The Omaha Star was the voice of the African-American community and was involved in the civil rights movement, fighting discrimination and racial injustice. One of their battles was getting African-American teachers hired in Omaha Public Schools. During the Civil Rights era, some leaders within Omaha Public Schools thought African-Americans were not qualified to be teachers and only let them teach in predominantly African-American schools. This article from 1946 represents how The Omaha Star brought attention to this injustice, and ultimately won the battle they had been fighting for a long time. Both in the past and in the present, African-American newspapers play a large role in voicing the concerns of the community.
Resources and Further Reading:
"Education Study Guide." The Black Press: Soliders without Swords.1999.
Forss, Amy. “Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star, 1938-1989.” Nebraska History, 2010.
PAZ, D.G. "The Black Press and the Issues of Race, Political, and Culture on the Great Plains of
Nebraska, 1865-1985." In The Black Press in the Middle West, 1865-1895, edited by Henry Lewis
Suggs, 213-241. Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies No. 177. Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 1996.
The Nebraska State Historical Society holds bound volumes of many of Omaha's African-American newspapers. The Omaha Public Library Main Downtown Library has many of Omaha's African-American newspapers on micro-film.