Lucile Bluford

Year Inducted: 
Lucile Bluford
  • Editor and Publisher, Kansas City Call
  • Civil Rights Activist
  • KU graduate

Lucile Bluford became a prominent voice and activist before and during the Civil Rights Movement. She challenged racist standards in education and through her work in journalism to spread awareness on the rising racial tensions and racist underbelly of the United States of America.

Bluford was born July 1, 1911, in South Carolina, moved with her father to Kansas City at age seven. She attended Lincoln High School where her father was a teacher. Bluford had her interest sparked in journalism while writing for the school newspaper and graduated first in her class in 1928.

During this time, the University of Missouri refused to admit African-American students, and the black college in Missouri lacked a journalism program. She chose to attend the University of Kansas and graduated with high honors in 1932. She was the second African-American to graduate from the KU School of Journalism, and was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest Greek-letter organization established in America by Black women.

After graduation, Bluford worked at the Daily World in Atlanta, Georgia, then the Kansas City American, and lastly the Kansas City Call, where she would work for seventy years and eventually rise to editor and publisher. Bluford centered her journalism on exposing racism and addressing it; however, for some of her more controversial pieces she would write under a male pseudonym, Louis Blue, to circumvent sexism in her field.

In 1939, Bluford was accepted into the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, upon arrival, however, she was turned away for being African-American. Deciding to work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Bluford chose to sue the university. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor in 1941, causing the university to respond by closing its graduate program.

Nearly fifty years later, she was honored by the University of Missouri School of Journalism for her excellence in journalism and received an honorary doctorate, which she accepted, “not only for myself, but for the thousands of black students” that were discriminated against and refused acceptance. Bluford was also a recipient of the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Citation in 1990.  She has a branch of the Kansas City Public Library named in her honor.  Lucile Bluford passed away June 13, 2003, at the age of 91, leaving a legacy in journalism, civil justice, and a striving to challenge racist structures.

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