By Dr. Shelia Brooks, Ph.D.
The Black press has long been a platform for Black feminists and civil rights activists, like journalist, editor and publisher Lucile H. Bluford. Ms. Bluford was an uncompromising trailblazer and unapologetic in her writings and commentaries in the weekly Black newspaper, the Kansas City Call. Her thunderous voice helped advance the knowledge of Black feminism within the paradigm of both the 1960s civil rights and 1970s women rights movements. She dedicated her writings to fighting injustices at the local community newspaper, fondly known by Kansas City natives as The Call.
Ms. Bluford would have been 107-years-old Sunday, July 1, 2018. In remembrance of her contributions to the state of Missouri’s history, the Missouri legislature passed a bill in 2016 that makes July 1 “Lucile Bluford Day”. Her activism as a young reporter began in 1939 when she sought admission to the graduate program in journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She was admitted but turned away by school officials when she showed up to register and they found out she was black. Her legal battle over the next three years became the catalyst for her seven-decade career as a champion of racial and gender equality.
Ms. Bluford used her social authority in the formidable power base of the media she owned, shaping and mobilizing a broader movement in the struggle for women’s rights and civil rights. She masked her Black feminism with a unique angle of vision as it relates to oppression, race, gender, and class. Bluford regularly used her journalistic voice in her news stories and commentaries to break down the barriers of inequalities and injustices against both women and Blacks, especially in her news coverage that the mainstream news ignored.
A first-ever book on the life of Lucile Bluford was published in April 2018. For more information on how to purchase “Lucile H. Bluford and the Kansas City Call: Activist Voice for Social Justice, visit https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498535632/Lucile-H.-Bluford-and-the-Kansas-City-Call-Activist-Voice-for-Social-Justice.
Thank you Ms. Bluford for leading the way for publishers and editors of community newspapers in this country.
Dr. Sheila Brooks is founder, president and CEO of SRB Communications, a full-service, boutique, multicultural advertising and marketing agency in Washington, D.C. She is an award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, author and advocate for minority and women’s issues and small businesses. Dr. Brooks teaches a graduate course in multicultural marketing as an adjunct professor on the faculty in the Strategic Public Relations program at The George Washington University.