University of Missouri Names Building After a Black Woman It Had Rejected for Admission in 1939

In 1939, Lucile Bluford, who had worked as a journalist for several newspapers including the Atlanta Daily World, the Kansas City American and the Kansas City Call, applied for admission into the master’s degree program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Her application was accepted. But when she arrived to enroll, she was turned away because of the color of her skin.

After a two-year legal battle, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 1941 that the journalism school had to admit her. But due to an overall shortage of students, the school shut down during World War II.

Buford never enrolled at the University of Missouri but instead continued her career as a journalist and civil rights advocate. She worked at the Kansas City Call for 70 years. In 1989, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Missouri.

Bluford, who was a graduate of the University of Kansas, died in 2003 at the age of 91. Now the university has named a residence hall in her honor.

“It’s fitting that the state honor Lucile Bluford, who fought to provide voice to the voiceless throughout her career,” says Lynda Kraxberger, associate dean and professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. “Bluford’s persistent advocacy for people of color stands as a monument of truth to power.”

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