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Up From Slavery: A Documentary

History of Negro Education

Compiled By Rudolph Lewis


 Photo left: Lucille Bluford



Lucille Bluford, born 1 July 1911, in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her parents were John Henry Bluford, Sr. and Viola Harris Bluford. She had two brothers, John Jr. and Guion. When Lucile was only four, her mother died. Her father later married Addie Alston, and in 1918 he accepted a position teaching science at Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Lucile moved with her family to Kansas City when she was seven years old. . . .

Lucille discovered while working on the high school newspaper and yearbook that she wanted to become a journalist. She thought about where she could go to college to study journalism, but her choices were very limited. She knew she couldn’t attend the University of Missouri in Columbia, which had the oldest and most respected journalism school in the country. It wouldn’t admit African Americans. Black students were supposed to study at the historically black college, Lincoln University, in Jefferson City, but it did not have a journalism program. So Lucile attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence instead. She graduated in 1932 with high honors.

Lucile Bluford began her journalism career in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was a reporter for the Daily World, an African American newspaper. Returning home, she worked at the the Kansas City American and then at the Kansas City Call, both African American-owned newspapers. At the Call, Bluford worked for Chester A. Franklin and advanced from the position of reporter to city editor, managing editor, and finally to editor and publisher.

In 1939, Bluford applied to the University of Missouri School of Journalism to do graduate work. She was accepted into the program, but when she went to Columbia to enroll, she was turned away. University officials had not known that she was African American. Just the year before, Lloyd Gaines, an honors student from Lincoln University, had sued the University of Missouri to be accepted into its School of Law. After his case went to the United States Supreme Court and the court ruled in his favor, Gaines mysteriously disappeared.

With the help of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Bluford strove to break down the system of injustice against African Americans in higher education. She believed that education was the key to advancement and equal treatment in society. She tried eleven times to enter the University of Missouri. She filed the first of several lawsuits against the university on October 13, 1939. Bluford’s case was denied time and time again.

In 1941 the state Supreme Court finally ruled in Bluford’s favor. The University of Missouri had to admit her because no equal program existed at Lincoln University. In response, the School of Journalism closed its graduate program. It claimed that it could not operate properly because a majority of its professors and students were serving in World War II.

Though Bluford ended her legal battle with the University of Missouri, she kept fighting racism. She became a leading voice in the civil rights movement in Kansas City and helped make the Call one of the largest and most important black newspapers in the nation. Eventually, the University of Missouri honored her. In 1984, a year after her nephew Guion S. Bluford, Jr. became the first African American astronaut in space, Bluford received an Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the School of Journalism. In 1989 the university gave her an honorary doctorate. Bluford said that she accepted the degree “not only for myself, but for the thousands of black students” the university had discriminated against over the years.UMSystem

Bluford was denied admission to the University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism in 1939 because she was African American, Lincoln's School of Journalism was created.. She became the managing editor and later the owner of the Kansas City Call. Lucille Bluford was also the first Black female to be enshrined in the National Newspaper Publishers

Outstanding Black Missourian called the “Conscience of Kansas City”

“When we talk about Lucile Bluford in terms of Missouri history and especially Kansas City history, she has been a very prominent community leader over the years,” said MU history professor Robert Weems, who described The Call as an important and influential black newspaper in America. Bluford joined The Call shortly after graduating from KU and became an editor in 1955 following the death of Chester Franklin, who in 1919 founded what would become one of the nation’s largest black-owned weekly newspapers. She also served as part-owner and publisher. Bluford was among those who were with then-Vice President Harry Truman at a downtown Kansas City hotel on the night he upset Thomas Dewey to win the presidency in November 1948. And Cleaver remembered her once scolding another presidential candidateJesse Jacksonbefore a crowd of 7,000 people for visiting Kansas City without first notifying the black media.—BlackMissouri

Lucile Bluford, 91, editor and publisher of the Kansas City Call and a champion of the civil rights movement died on June 13, 2003 in Kansas City.—BlackMissouri

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Lucille Bluford is pictured here in a typical pose as she worked at the Kansas City Call. She was denied admission to The University of Missouri Columbia Journalism program in 1939 because she was black.

In February of 1942 The Lincoln University School of Journalism was established as a separate program for black students. Thelma Berlack Boozer was Lincoln's first dean of journalism (1942-44).—Lincoln University

Thelma Berlack Boozer (1906- ?), formerly a journalist of The New York Amsterdam News (1926-42), was a 1966 supporter of Martin Luther King's SCLC.TheKingCenter 

Boozer—Director, uptown division United Negro College Fund, 1945-66— had written on Nella Larsen (3 March 1928) as a new Harlem writer, "New Author Unearthed Right Here in Harlem."

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Chapter VI. "The Instruction of Negroes." In Edgar W. Knight. A Documentary History of Education in the South before 1860. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1953

Chapter 10 "Up From Slavery: Educational and other Rights of Negroes." In Edgar W. Knight and Clifton L. Hall. Readings in American Educational History. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1951.

Many states had laws prohibiting the education of blacks; here black youngsters are turned away at the school door

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination. Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. —Publishers Weekly /  Derrick Bell   Dies at 80

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What Orwell Didn't Know

Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics

By Andras Szanto

Propaganda. Manipulation. Spin. Control. It has ever been thus—or has it? On the eve of the 60th anniversary of George Orwell's classic essay on propaganda (Politics and the English Language), writers have been invited to explore what Orwell didn't—or couldn't—know. Their responses, framed in pithy, focused essays, range far and wide: from the effect of television and computing, to the vast expansion of knowledge about how our brains respond to symbolic messages, to the merger of journalism and entertainment, to lessons learned during and after a half-century of totalitarianism. Together, they paint a portrait of a political culture in which propaganda and mind control are alive and well (albeit in forms and places that would have surprised Orwell). The pieces in this anthology sound alarm bells about the manipulation and misinformation in today's politics, and offer guideposts for a journalism attuned to Orwellian tendencies in the 21st century.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 25 May 2012




Home  Table History of Negro Education 

Related files: Ada Sipuel case  A Documentary History of Negro Education  Heman Sweatt & Texas Law School    G.W. McLaurin & Oklahoma / Brown v. Board of Education    The Cummings Case 1899)

Gong and Martha Lum Case 1927   Education and History