Lucile Bluford was a well-respected editor and publisher of the Kansas City Call, an important African American weekly newspaper. She was also a brave and persistent civil rights activist. In both her personal life and her career, she refused to remain quiet about racial injustice.
Bluford was born on July 1, 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 Bluford 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.
During the time in America, schools throughout the South and bordering states like Missouri had a “separate but equal” rule in education. This meant that children of different races could not go to school together. Black students attended schools that were supposed to be equal in quality to the white schools, but most of them did not have the same resources. Lucile attended Wendell Phillips Elementary. At age 13, she started Lincoln High School, where her father taught. She was a very active and successful student and even wrote for the school newspaper. Bluford graduated first in her class in 1928.