Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989

By Amy Helene Forss | Go to book overview

Introduction

On June 1, 1984, Mildred Brown slowly walked onto the stage dais of the Red Lion Inn, the finest downtown hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. She looked out at the multitude of white and black citizens facing her and said, “Am I dreaming?” Standing at the podium, serenaded by the sounds of the famous Preston Love Sr. Band, she looked radiant in her scarlet red gown and shimmering silver sequined evening jacket. Her trademark oversized white carnation corsage decorated her left shoulder. Brown, the cofounder, owner, publisher, and editor of the Omaha Star black newspaper, was the honored guest of 470 residents of the city of Omaha, most of whom were from northern Omaha, better known as the Near North Side. Harold Andersen, the white editor of the mainstream Omaha World-Herald newspaper, and Ben Gray, a local black television talk show host, served as the dinner’s emcees. The men introduced each other to the interracial crowd. Gray incorrectly introduced Harold Andersen as Harold Washington, who at that time was Chicago’s current and first black mayor. Andersen covered Gray’s faux pas with a clever quip. He asked the television reporter if he wanted to meet his wife, Marian Andersen, as in Marian Anderson, the black operatic singer. The audience responded with a few nervous chuckles and laughs. Brown’s former second husband, Noel Maximilian “Max” Brownell; her brother Bennie Brown Sr.; her nephew Bennie Brown Jr.; and her niece Marguerita Washington nodded approvingly at the head table. Ruth Harris Kellogg, Brown’s beloved foster daughter, was not present; she had died seven months prior to the festive event. Her voice would not be among the videotaped speeches or thirty-five minutes of individual tributes to Brown.

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Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1- Laying the Foundation 19
  • 1- A Family of Fighters 21
  • 2- Involving the Community 43
  • 3- Politics of Respectability 59
  • Part 2- Ensuring Her Success 81
  • 4- Working within Her Space 83
  • 5- Collective Activism and the de Porres Club 101
  • 6- Restricted Housing and ‘Rithmetic 123
  • Part 3- Transferring Ownership to the Community 141
  • 7- Changing Strategies for Changing Times 143
  • 8- The Death of An Icon 165
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 233
  • In the Women in the West Series 242
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