(Kansas City, Missouri) - The Kansas City Call and its longtime editor and publisher, Lucile Bluford, epitomized the role of the African American press in the civil rights movement. The newspaper advocated for the political and economic interests of its readers, forging relationships with such key organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Beneath outward displays of unity, however, were internal disagreements between the press and activist groups about what direction the fight for equality would take and, often, who should be its voice. Earnest L. Perry Jr., an associate professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, examines that struggle, what it entailed for Bluford and The Call, and the implications for today's social justice movement on Thursday, May 14, 2015, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The presentation, Civil Rights: The Struggle Within, begins at 6:30 p.m. The current owner and publisher of The Call, Donna Stewart, also offers remarks.
The event coincides with the exhibit Justice Postponed Is Justice Denied: Lucile Bluford and the Campaign for Educational Equality on display through May 31 at the Central Library.
For well more than a century, African American newspapers were among the strongest institutions in black America. They helped create and stabilize communities and fought forcefully in print on their behalf.
Until World War II, the press was the outlet through which the NAACP and other civil rights organizations spoke. Newspapers, including The Call, then began speaking for themselves. Editorial writers crusaded for open housing, quality schools, voting rights, fair employment, and equal accommodations - demands that would form the civil rights agenda.
What ensued was a tug of war over who would be the voice of African Americans.
Perry, whose research interests focus on African-American press history and media management, serves as coordinator of the Missouri School of Journalism's doctoral teaching program. He worked as a reporter for newspapers in Illinois, Connecticut, and Texas before joining the university.
Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.