Lucile Bluford Bibliographic Essay

Several archival collections help piece together Lucile Bluford’s story.  Fern Ingersoll’s interview with Bluford for the Women in Journalism Oral History Project conducted between 1989-1990, was beneficial in getting to know Bluford, her background, her career path, and her motivations.  The transcripts from this interview are available at the State Historical Society of Missouri.  Also helpful was Bluford’s legal deposition in the Kansas City school desegregation case, which is located in the lead attorney, Arthur A. Benson II’s papers, also at the State Historical Society of Missouri.  In addition to elaborating her personal history, it provides a deeper understanding of Bluford’s race-consciousness and willingness to support a cause she believed in.  An undated manuscript or speech written by Bluford is available at Missouri Valley Special Collections.  This manuscript clearly elucidates her understanding of the role of the black press.  Another interesting piece of the puzzle is an article Bluford wrote at the age of fifteen while working on her school newspaper at the all-black Lincoln High School entitled “Better Schools.”  This illuminating article from 1926 sheds light on her future endeavors for equality.  This is also available at Missouri Valley Special Collections through the Kansas City Public Library.  Perhaps the most important source was The Kansas City Call, available at the Kansas City Public Library on microfilm.  Consulting the newspaper, in conjunction with the oral history, was essential in understanding Bluford’s opinions and her activism.

Bluford’s story draws on several, cross-pollinating themes including civil rights activists, the civil rights movement, segregation in higher education, black women journalists, and the black press.  The following are some pertinent secondary sources worth referencing.  Jinx Broussard in Giving a Voice to the Voiceless: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists, Amy Forss in Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989 and Paula Giddings in A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells all look at black female journalists and discuss how they worked to bring issues affecting African Americans to the public’s attention.  Like Bluford, these newspaper women were civil rights activists.  Lynne Olsen’s Freedom’s Daughters: Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement, 1830-1970 is a seminal contribution to the history of women civil rights workers.  Approaching the civil rights movement from the angle of the black press, as opposed to a straightforward account of the struggle, provides a nuanced look at the movement.  When considering the black press, one should consult The African American Press by Charles Simmons who traces the history of the black press with four, leading black newspapers and Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff’s The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation.  This latter work analyzes the impact of the media’s race story on the nation and makes convincing arguments about its ability to sway prevailing dialogues and ideals.