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Back in the day, July 9, 1938: Mildred Brown publishes the first issue of the Omaha Star

Back in the day, July 9, 1938: Mildred Brown publishes the first issue of the Omaha Star

Omaha Star

The Omaha Star employed a number of children to deliver the newspaper.

On July 9, 1938, the Omaha Star, a weekly publication and Nebraska's only Black-owned newspaper, put out its first issue.

Eighty-three years ago today, the Omaha Star, a weekly publication and Nebraska's only Black-owned newspaper, put out its first issue.

As founder, publisher and editor of the Omaha Star, Mildred Brown fought bigotry with words. She also provided neighborhood news and commentary for more than 50 years, giving her readers a weekly helping of information about events and opinions in the Black community.

The Star was the nation's longest-operating Black-owned newspaper run by a woman.

Brown, an Alabama native, graduated from teachers college at age 16. She moved to Omaha in 1937 with her husband and launched the paper a year later. The Star grew into one of the most prosperous weekly newspapers in the country. It is currently distributed to 48 states and, at one point, the paper boasted a staff of 20 and circulation of more than 30,000.

Under her leadership, the Star worked to open up jobs for Black people and desegregate restaurants and public facilities. The vivacious woman, who always wore a fresh corsage, helped organize marches and boycotts. 

The newspaper always has operated under this motto: "Dedicated to the service of the people that no good cause shall lack a champion, and that evil shall not thrive unopposed."

"She believed in causes and fighting for them," said her niece Marguerita L. Washington, who took over as the Star's owner and publisher after Brown's death in 1989. "She gave the Black community a voice."

The Omaha Star building, at 2216 N. 24th St., was designated an Omaha Historical Landmark Site in 2006 and was officially entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. At first, Brown rented the building. She eventually owned it as well as two buildings to the north.

Brown was inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame in 2007.

"I think she would be elated to know that her work paid off and that it's still paying off," Washington said.


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