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*On this date we celebrated the founding of the Kansas City Call Newspaper in 1919. .
Chester A. Franklin founded the paper and remained its active head and guiding strength for 36 years. He wanted to build a strong newspaper, one that would provide leadership in the local community, but he did not envision that it would become one of the six largest Black weekly newspapers in the country and (at one time) the largest Black business in the Midwest. Franklin came to Kansas City and opened a printing shop downtown, a short time later, he moved to a 20 by 40 foot room at 1311 East 18th Street, and The Call newspaper was born.
The maiden issue of The Call was a four-page sheet, 2,000 copies were printed and sold for 5 cents a copy. The first years were not to come easy. Franklin had to teach himself and his printer to operate the newspaper’s first typesetting machine, the Linotype, because the local printer’s union did not permit its members to work for African American editors.
In 1924 a new and improved press, a Deluxe Web Perfecting press was purchased and that purchase was publicly announced in a front-page story. By 1927, this machine was not meeting the Call’s growing circulation and a year later Franklin installed his first rotary press, the 32-page Goss Press.
From the Call’s inception, news policy has been constructive, presenting the achievements and worthwhile happenings among the African American community, rather than crime and other stereotypical aspects of the news. Through the years, The Call has continued to urge the community to be politically empowered and to speak out on issues affecting the welfare of African American people. Through its columns, it has led campaigns against lynching, the Ku Klux Klan, and police brutality. It also fought segregation and discrimination in education, housing, employment, and the use of public facilities.
Today as in the past, The Call’s coverage includes events in the Black community of Kansas City and the nation, news of local churches and upcoming performances, sports, graduations, marriages, and deaths. Upon the death of Mr. Franklin in 1955, his wife, Mrs. Ada Crogman Franklin, became owner and publisher. The Kansas City Call is now owned and published by Ms. Lucille Bluford and Mr. Reuben Benton.
Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History
Volume 1, ISBN #0-02-897345-3, Pg 175
Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West