Celebrating 80 Years by Kiel Harmon

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The Omaha Star, a Nebraska publishing landmark, celebrated 80 years of success and community outreach on Sunday, July 15, at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Omaha.

The gala serves as a fundraiser for the Mildred D. Brown Memorial Study Center (MDBMSC), the non-profit auxiliary of The Omaha Star, which has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to African-American students pursuing careers in journalism and mass communications.

The ballroom was filled with a who’s-who of Omaha and including elected officials, educators, and prominent community members. There were special commemorations of founding publisher, Mildred D. Brown, and her niece, Dr. Marguerita Washington, as well as current publisher and managing editor, Phyllis Hicks.

Mrs. Brown started The Omaha Star in 1938 and was publisher for 50 years, until she passed in 1988. She bequeathed the newspaper to her niece, Dr. Washington, who walked away from an outstanding career in education, to run the newspaper for the next 29 years. Dr. Washington, who passed in 2016, passed the baton to Phyllis Hicks, who continues to carry the flame.

The evening’s emcee, KETV-7 Traffic to-Go Reporter, Laurann Robinson, eloquently guided the gala’s program. Johnny Rodgers, 1972 Heismann Trophy Winner, and Roberta Wilhelm, the executive director of Omaha Girls, Inc. of Omaha were Honorary Co-Chairpersons.

The keynote, Gabrielle Jordan, at just 18-years-old is an accomplished speaker, youth developer and owner of Jewelz of Jordan, a luxury jewelry business. Jordan is co-founder of the ExCel Youth Mentoring Institute, a youth-based online mentoring organization. She is also author of an Amazon. com best-selling book, “The Making of a Young Entrepreneur: A Kids Guide to Developing the Mindset for Success.”

Jordan reminded the predominantly adult audience of the power of overcoming fear of failure. She insisted that failure is absolutely essential to success in life because, the only true failure is to never try. She recalled reading the monumental self-developmeant classic, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson.

“What would you do in life if you have absolutely no fear?”

“Dr. Johnson asked a question I had never considered until reading his book. He asked, ‘What would you do in life if you had absolutely no fear?’ I realized that most of our failures in life come from being afraid to try the things that are in our heart. We let fear stop us from even trying to do the things we want to do most. It wasn’t lack of ability or money or anything. It was fear. Without fear, we can move forward and find the ways and means to make our dreams come true,” Jordan said to her audience.

Jordan was greatly inspired by Mildred D. Brown and how an African- American woman in the 1930’s, not only became successful in a male-dominated industry, but how Mrs. Brown changed the entire industry. Jordan noted that the story of Mildred Brown is awe-inspiring and a deserves its place in the history books.

Jordan not only gave a rousing address to the ballroom audience, but stayed in Omaha for several days and participated with Omaha youth attending the Youth Economic Summit at Metro Community College Fort Campus. To learn more about the life and work of Gabrielle Jordan, visit her website at www. gabriellejordaninspires.com. Several awards were presented at the gala.

The 2018 Mildred D. Brown Pioneer Award was presented to the family of founder the Galloway family. C.C. Galloway founded The Omaha Guide and it became one of the largest African American newspaper in the country, with a focus on social and political views. Mildred sold ads for The Guide, it was an inspiration to her development of The Omaha Star.

The 2018 Mildred D. Brown Legacy Award, presented to Janice Gilmore, a veteran columnist for the Omaha World-Herald, as well as a former educator and speaker. She contributes to Revive! Omaha magazine, an African-American lifestyle and community empowerment magazine. She is also the author of an inspirational children’s book, “Cool Kids Live in Omaha,” and a book about grief, “When Someone You Love Dies.”

The 2018 Torch Bearer Award was presented Yolanda Barney, Co-Publisher of Revive! Omaha magazine and Vice President of SMB Enterprises, parent company to the magazine. Barney has over 20 years in the publishing and media industry.

The 2018 Shining Star Award was presented to CNN Political Commentator, Symone Sanders. At age 25, Sanders became the youngest presidential candidate press secretary in American history appointed by Senator Bernie Sanders (no relation) to guide his voice to the public.

The 2018 Rising Star Award was awarded to 19-year-old, Candide Villard. Upon accepting her award, stirred the audience with an outstanding vocal performance of Audra Day’s “Rise Up.” The Creighton University Junior is an intern for the MDBMSC, where she is enriching her journalism degree with real world experience. John Pierce, President of the MDBMSC and retired Creighton University executive administrator, surprised the talented Villard with an additional $1,000.00 bonus to her MDBMSC scholarship package.

For in-depth interviews with some of the awardees and attendees of the gala, visit the online Facebook and YouTube show, “ShopTalk” (FB: @TheShopTalkShow) on Friday, July 27th, 2018.