The Word - Media

Lucile Bluford

Lucile Bluford was an American journalist and civil rights activist. She was born on July 1, 1911, in Salisbury, North Carolina, and passed away on October 13, 2003, in Kansas City, Missouri. Bluford is best known for her pioneering efforts in journalism and her advocacy for racial equality. Bluford attended the University of Kansas in the 1930s, where she pursued a journalism degree. Despite her academic achievements, she faced discrimination and was denied admission to the University of Missouri’s journalism program due to her race. This incident sparked her lifelong commitment to fighting for equal rights and opportunities for African Americans.

Pictured at her typewriter is Lucile Bluford, a Negro graduate of the University of Kansas and reporter for a Kansas City, Missouri newspaper, who charged that officials of the University of Missouri rejected her application for admission to the university’s School of Journalism. Miss Bluford cited a recent U. S. Supreme Court decision to the effect that a Missouri Law School should open to a Negro applicant or provide him with equal educational facilities.

In 1934, Bluford began working as a reporter for The Kansas City Call, a prominent African American newspaper in Kansas City. She eventually became the managing editor and publisher of the newspaper, using it as a platform to address issues of racial injustice and promote the achievements of the African American community.

Bluford’s most notable battle was her persistent efforts to gain admission to the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. She applied and was denied admission several times, leading to a lengthy legal battle that lasted from 1939 to 1941. Although she ultimately did not attend the university due to the court ruling against her, her fight drew national attention and exposed the discriminatory practices of educational institutions. Throughout her career, Bluford remained dedicated to promoting civil rights and highlighting the contributions of African Americans. She covered significant events such as the civil rights movement and the desegregation of schools, shedding light on the struggles and achievements of African Americans in the face of systemic racism.

Mayor Richard Berkley presents a plaque to Lucile Bluford during the opening of the Library’s Bluford Branch in 1988.

Bluford received numerous awards and honors for her journalistic excellence and activism. In 1984, the University of Missouri awarded her an honorary doctorate in journalism, recognizing her significant contributions to the field. The Lucile H. Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library was also named in her honor. Lucile Bluford’s tireless advocacy and groundbreaking work in journalism played a crucial role in challenging racial inequality and fostering social change in the United States. Her legacy continues to inspire journalists and activists fighting for justice and equality.

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