Lucille Boynton Skaggs Edwards, a journalist and suffragist, was the first African American woman magazine publisher in Nebraska. Edwards was born to Mary and David Skaggs in Washington, D.C. on July 23, 1875. Some documents suggest that her mother was a white Irish immigrant while others state that both of her parents were black from Tennessee. Although little is known about her early life, she moved to Tennessee with her family at an early age and married her husband, August C. Edwards, a doctor, in 1897. The couple moved to Georgia where Edwards taught English and she gave birth to their two children, Alie and Gerald, in 1899 and 1901.
By 1910, Edwards and her husband moved to Omaha, Nebraska. It was during this time that she began her career as a newspaper publisher and established The Women’s Aurora in the winter of 1906. The monthly publication focused on topics centered around black womanhood. It is unclear of how many issues were published or when magazine folded. Edwards’ career as a journalist, nonetheless, extended past the end of her magazine. She worked as an associate editor of a local black newspaper, the Monitor, and maintained a column titled ‘Our Women and Children’ through 1928. She consistently wrote about women’s labor and childcare and provided excerpts from speeches, poems, and articles from other newspapers. She also moved on to become a notary public and was employed as a typist and stenographer in the office of the Clerk of the District Court in Omaha.
Edwards was politically active in her community in Omaha throughout her life and participated in local suffragist activities and marches for women’s rights with her daughters. In addition, she heavily campaigned for both Republican and later Democratic candidates in the 1930s and helped create the Northside Negro Democratic Club in 1934, serving as its first secretary. Edwards was also a member of the Omaha branch of the NAACP.
Aside from her political activities, Edwards also played a major organizing role in the religious life of the community. In 1918, she and a friend started a black Catholic missionary society which originally met in their homes. Eventually, the organization attracted the attention a of local priest and was renamed Saint Benedict the Moor Church. By 1931, the church’s membership grew to over 350 members and became the largest black Catholic church in Omaha. It expanded over the years to include an elementary school, playground, and a community center for Omaha’s black community.
In 1926, Edwards and her husband divorced, but she remained at the family home for the next 30 years. She resumed her relationship with her former husband, August sometime in the 1950s, and they moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1959. Edwards passed away on September 14, 1972 at 96 years old in Brooklyn.