Lucile Bluford gets her day

Her fight for equality led to big changes, and a journalism program at LU

By Isis McCully

Lucille Bluford photographed on in 1984 during a visit to the campus of the University of Missouri, Columbia. In the early 1940s, she filed a lawsuit against the school after it refused to admit her. (Photo courtesy Missouri State Archives)

JEFFERSON CITY – The woman who changed journalism for African-Americans has her own day of celebration. Lucile H. Bluford was a famous journalist who fought for equal rights in America’s education system. In 2016, to honor her career and her leadership in civil rights, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill designating July 1 as “Lucile Bluford Day.”

Although in 1939 Bluford was denied entry into the journalism graduate program at the University of Missouri – Columbia, she had a huge impact on Lincoln University. After being denied entry into Mizzou, she filed a lawsuit. The Missouri Supreme Court suggested Bluford attend nearby Lincoln University, but Lincoln didn’t have a journalism program. Ultimately, the court ordered Mizzou to let Bluford into the graduate school. In response, the university closed their graduate school.

Bluford never attended the University of Missouri. However, Lincoln began offering journalism courses and today is considered to have the oldest journalism program of all the HBCU schools in the U.S.

Will Sites, assistant professor of journalism at Lincoln University, was asked about Missouri’s Lucile Bluford Day .

“I think it’s way overdue because if it wasn’t for the struggles that Miss Bluford went through, I’m not sure we would be where we are today with journalism at LU,” said Sites from his MLK Hall campus office. “Maybe late is better than never, but let’s honor her and her day from here forward and what she means not only for Lincoln University, but for African-American journalism.”

Though Bluford ended her legal battle with the University of Missouri, she kept fighting. She became a leading voice for the civil rights movement and a publisher/editor at the Kansas City Call newspaper, where she retired after a long, successful career.

Mark Schleer, Page Library archivist and GE 101 university seminar instructor, was asked what he would tell students who don’t know about Lucile Bluford.

“Well, her best attributes are probably persistence, a sense of justice and somebody who has a vision and a goal, not just for themselves but for other people,” said Schleer. “I’d like to thank her for her sacrifice, her effort, and her goal of having education for everyone.”

For more about Lucile Bluford, click here.

About The Clarion News

Campus and community news produced by journalism students at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
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