New residence hall will be first named after a black woman

RHA chose the name for Building 2, a new residence hall to be completed by Fall 2017.
Building 2, of the two buildings currently under construction near Dobbs is set to be named Bluford in honor of journalist and civil rights activist Lucile Bluford.

A new residence hall that will open next fall may be the first residence hall on campus to bear the name of a black woman if the Board of Curators approves RHA’s name proposal.

The Residence Halls Association has selected the name of influential journalist and civil rights advocate Lucile Bluford for Building 2, a new residence hall under construction near the Pavilion at Dobbs. Bluford was a Kansas City native.

The new hall is scheduled to be completed by August 2017. Last year’s representatives researched, proposed and voted on names for the building before ultimately choosing to call it Lucile Bluford Hall.

“[The name] is a very good fit for the building,” RHA communications director Kyle Roberts said. “[It is] giving someone who doesn’t necessarily have recognition more recognition.”

Last year’s RHA representatives also chose the name of Brooks Hall, named for George C. Brooks, which opened this semester. Brooks is the first residence hall named after a black person.

The advocacy committee presented the name to the RHA Congress last year when Monica Roselli was the chair of the advocacy committee. She said the committee researched names of people from different backgrounds who reflect the diversity of the university.

“The campus itself is going to be a more diverse and inclusive type of atmosphere,” she said. “So why not have that in our halls?”

She had been rejected by admissions in 1939 because of her race several times and ultimately sued the university, according to the State Historical Society of Missouri’s website.
In 1984, Bluford received an Honor Medal for Distinguished Service by the Missouri School of Journalism.

Since she was disallowed from attending MU, Bluford got her journalism degree from the University of Kansas and graduated with honors in 1932. After, she was a working journalist for seven years in both Atlanta, Georgia and Kansas City and then tried to apply to MU’s graduate program in 1939.

Bluford’s paper application was accepted, but she was disallowed from attending classes when she got to the admissions office because she was black. She applied several more times and opened up a lawsuit against the university.

In 1941, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in Bluford’s favor, but the School of Journalism immediately shut down its graduate program and claimed it was because a majority of its professors and students were serving in World War II.

Though Bluford dropped her legal battle with the university after 1941, she continued to advocate for civil rights as a writer, managing editor and ultimately editor-in-chief of the Kansas City Call, an influential black newspaper.

Bluford worked for The Call for 70 years before passing away in 2003 at the age of 91.

Though RHA Congress passed the name last year, it still needs to be signed by the president of the university and then approved by the Board of Curators, who will make the final decision after the president approves the name.

Ishita Patel served as the vice chair of the advocacy committee last year, and said that RHA had a responsibility to recognize the history of the university while choosing a namesake for the new residence hall.

“[Choosing the name] was something that meant a lot to us and something that was a part of the university’s history,” Patel said. “It’s up to us to uphold that piece of history and say, ‘Hey, this part of history was important and it shouldn’t be just cast aside into the archives or into a piece of paper. It should be re-lived and you should know why this person was here and why they’re so important that we’re naming a hall [for them].’”

Edited by Emily Gallion | egallion@themaneater.com

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