Brown, Mildred D.


1975 ALS to the Army War College Commandant by a civil rights leader, praising his remarks on possibilities and challenges facing young people as future leaders



Autograph ID: 6819
Condition: Very good, blue ink arrow at top of 1st page and crossed out ink docketing, one word crossed out by recipient.
Description: (1905-1989) African-American journalist, newspaper publisher, Omaha, Nebraska civil rights leader. Born in Alabama, she graduated from Miles College (then, Miles Memorial Teachers College, an historically Black college in Birmingham). She and husband S. Edward Gilbert moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where she studied journalism at Drake University. Brown sold ads and wrote news at the Sioux City, Iowa Silent Messenger, where Gilbert was editor. They moved to Omaha in 1937 and Brown worked as an advertising manager. She and Gilbert founded and ran the Omaha Star in 1938. By 1945 it was the only remaining African-American newspaper in Omaha and in Nebraska. After her 1943 divorce, Brown ran the newspaper’s operations as owner-publisher until her death in 1989. Still operating, it is the longest-running newspaper in city history, the only black paper printed in the state. She used the newspaper to expand opportunities for the African-American community. She hired young black men and provided scholarships for education. She refused to accept advertising from businesses that discriminated against blacks in hiring, led customer boycotts of them to achieve change, and promoted positive news about accomplishments of individuals and groups. In the late 40s, Brown became involved with Omaha’s DePorres Club, a group of high school and Creighton University students fighting racial discrimination in Omaha. They led a sit-in at a cafe near the courthouse. After Creighton kicked the group off campus for too much activism, she volunteered the Star’s office for its use and provided informal guidance and support to the group. Her balanced coverage of the 1960s riots earned commendation from President Johnson who appointed her as a goodwill ambassador to East Germany. She continued activism to persuade businesses to make more opportunities open to blacks. In the 1970s, Brown joined the Citizens Co-Ordinating Committee for Civil Liberties (the 4CL). Created by prominent black church leaders, the group continued efforts for broader grassroots employment and added issues of housing, civil rights, and social justice. Her niece, Dr. Marguerita Washington, founded the non-profit Mildred D. Brown Study Center to provide scholarships for journalism students and encourage students to explore communication fields. Brown was the 1st African American and one of only 3 women inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame. She was posthumously inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame (2007) and the Omaha Press Club Journalists of Excellence Hall of Fame (2008). In 2007 the Omaha Star Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the newspaper’s significance in Omaha history, journalism, and the civil rights movement.

ALS, 2pp (separate leaves) on 10 -½ x 7 -¼ United States Bicentennial letterhead, Carlisle Barracks, Penna., nd (ca. May 2 1975), to Major General DeWitt C. Smith Jr., Army War College Commandant. Brown tells Smith how fortunate she was to hear Smiths timely address at an AWC Honors Banquet. In a moving manner, she relates how the older order of teachers and people of good will who cared and who were sensitive to the traumas and difficulties caused by stereotypes and prejudged conceptions, could only try to teach young people how to fortify themselves against hurt which created additional pressures with which no youngster should have to cope. She adds that many became hostile and rebellious, but in the past 10 years other tactics were tried to relieve the pressures and ease their lot, often not in their best interests or in the principles of a democratic way of life. She was proud of General Smiths address which exposed bright young minds of this community to the possibilities and the challenges which face them.Very nice content! With envelope.

DeWITT C. SMITH,JR. (1920 -1985) US Army officer, former deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. Joined the Army 1942, commissioned 2nd lieutenant, with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. Wounded 3 times, awarded Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged 1946, returned to active duty in Korea and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Maxwell Taylor, served in the “Old Guard” at Fort Myer, a battalion XO and commander in Germany. He served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. Led a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.”
Type: Letter

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