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MU dorm named for famous Kansas City African American

Longtime editor and publisher of The Call, 'Miss Bluford' turned the paper into a public conscience

Alvin Brooks, former City Council member and longtime community activist, talks about driving Lucile Bluford. For more than 65 years as a reporter and then longtime editor and publisher of The Call, hers was the dominant voice of Kansas City’s Afr
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Alvin Brooks, former City Council member and longtime community activist, talks about driving Lucile Bluford. For more than 65 years as a reporter and then longtime editor and publisher of The Call, hers was the dominant voice of Kansas City’s Afr

A new residence hall at University of Missouri has been named for one of Kansas City’s most famous African American citizens.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators voted unanimously Thursday to name a dormitory for the late journalist Lucile Bluford, former publisher of the Kansas City Call newspaper.

The hall’s atrium will honor Gus T. Ridgel, MU’s first African-American graduate.

University officials said both Bluford and Ridgel, as African-American leaders, shaped the history of the Columbia campus.

“From this day forward, Lucile Bluford Residence Hall and the Gus T. Ridgel Atrium will stand as testaments to the spirit of justice and perseverance that animated both of these individuals,” said David Steelman, chair of the Board of Curators.

“Lucile Bluford and Gus Ridgel exemplified the university’s values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence.”

MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said he hopes the names on the hall and the atrium “will remind us all of our duty to ensure that Mizzou is welcoming to all students, faculty and staff.”

The hall’s naming was recommended by Darryl Chatman, the only African American board member and the board’s vice chairman, and by Courtney Laurer, the student representative to the board.

“We celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of these two individuals who’ve had a tremendous impact on our institution,” Chatman said in a statement.

He said there was widespread support from the MU community including faculty, staff and students for naming the residence hall for Bluford, who died in 2003 at 91.

In 1939, Bluford, a graduate of the University of Kansas, applied to the Missouri School of Journalism to do graduate work. She was accepted but when she arrived on campus and it was discovered that she was African American, she was turned away.

“Through her eloquent writing, bold actions, courage and resilience, Bluford helped change the way African-Americans are treated, especially in the area of higher education,” a university statement said.

In 1984, she received an Honor Medal for Distinguished Service from the School of Journalism, and in 1989 she was awarded an honorary doctorate in journalism from MU.

Ridgel, who received a master’s degree from MU in economics in 1951, has led a distinguished career as a researcher, teacher and administrator.

Ridgel taught for a year at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Ga., a historically black college, and then went on to earn a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, Indiana University and Duke University among other schools.

In 1960, he was hired as head of the Department of Business at Kentucky State University. He retired in 1996 as vice president for finance and administration.

In 1987 MU established the Gus T. Ridgel Fellowship for underrepresented minority graduate students in any discipline.

In a statement from MU Ridgel described Thursday’s naming as “humbling” and said, “The University of Missouri holds a very dear place in my heart...”

Lucile Bluford Residence Hall is at 502 Kentucky Blvd. The facility opened last fall and offers community-style double and single rooms.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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