Board of Curators approves renaming of New Hall after African-American journalist Lucile Bluford

Bluford was a Kansas City journalist who spent her life fighting for civil rights and put the Kansas City Call on the map among African-American newspapers.

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Earlier this month, the UM System Board of Curators decided unanimously to rename New Hall after influential Kansas City journalist Lucile Bluford.

Bluford earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 1932. She went on to work for Atlanta’s Daily World and then the Kansas City American and the Kansas City Call.

In 1939, at the age of 27, she applied to the Missouri School of Journalism’s graduate program. She was initially accepted, but upon arrival to Columbia, she was denied because she was African-American.

With the NAACP, Bluford filed several lawsuits against the university, and after two years of trial, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in her favor. Before she had the chance to attend, MU shut its graduate doors in 1942 because of a lack of students and professors during the second World War.

Bluford spent her life fighting to expose racism and became a leading figure in the civil rights movement, especially in Kansas City. There, she helped the Kansas City Call become one of the most prominent and influential black newspapers in the country. Bluford was always an advocate for higher education and tirelessly fought for equality of African Americans in the schooling system, according to the State Historical Society of Missouri.

MU recognized her achievements in life and journalism with the school of journalism’s highest honor, the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, in 1984. And in 1989, Bluford received an honorary doctoral degree from the university’s officials. Upon accepting the degree, she said, “[I accept] not only for myself, but for thousands of black students [discriminated against by the university over the years].”

The Residence Halls Association proposed that the hall be named after Bluford in late 2016. New Hall opened in August 2017 but was renamed Lucile Bluford Residence Hall in a Board of Curators meeting on Feb. 1.

Freshman Peyton Jones, a New Hall resident, is excited to see the name change.

“I think it’s really cool that MU is honoring such an inspiring woman, and it’s going to be nice that they aren’t going to just call it New Hall,” Jones said.

Freshman Elena Conaty, who also lives in New Hall, said the name change may be hard for students to adjust to, but she is happy with the board’s decision.

“I liked the name ‘New Hall’,” Contay said. “However, it will be a hard transition for everyone who already lived here this year because we’ve grown into the name of just ‘New Hall.’ I like what the new name of ‘Bluford’ stands for because she was a powerful woman who left her mark on the Mizzou community.”

Edited by Brooke Collier | bcollier@themaneater.com

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