Chester Arthur Franklin was a leading African American editor and publisher of the Kansas City Call, who used his newspaper platform to advocate for systemic change and equity, both for Kansas City’s black community and for African Americans nationwide. By the time of his death in 1955, Franklin had served as a prominent publisher over 30 years and was heavily impressed in Kansas City’s memory as an editor, activist, and leader.
“The black schools [in Kansas City] were much better than they had any right to be, partly because they were full of talented teachers who would have been teaching in college had they been white, and partly because Negro parents and children simply refused to be licked by segregation.” Then-reporter Roy Wilkins’s statement about education in the Kansas City area aptly summarizes the unjust obstacles that segregation created for black students, their parents, and educators at the segregated schools of Kansas City.
Letter from Kansas City Call editor Chester A. Franklin to University of Missouri president Frederick A. Middlebush, discussing the importance and impetus of the Lucile Bluford case against the university. Franklin writes that the suit is "an effort to make Missouri provide the equal schooling for Negroes ordered by the supreme court in the Gaines decision," and that "the state has evaded its duty" in meeting that standard.
Tenth Anniversary and "Progress Edition" of the Kansas City Call newspaper. The paper includes stories about crime and political news, social and church updates, sports stories, and advertisements for local businesses, groceries, and cosmetic products. A spread on page B-3 includes a statement from editor and publisher C. A. Franklin as well as photographs of the Call's facilities on 18th Street and its editorial and other staff. "Present Day Kansas City Far Cry From 1850" on B-4 describes the changes in the city over the last 75 years.
Photograph of Thomas Y. Baird (left, co-owner of the Kansas City Monarchs), Chester A. Franklin (center, owner of The Call), and James L. Wilkinson (right, founder of the Kansas City Monarchs) reviewing a petition in The Call to "Save Negro Baseball". During WWII, the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation was planning to forbid private baseball teams from using private bus transportation to tour.
Chester Arthur Franklin founded The Call newspaper in May 1919. The paper emerged as the most important African American newspaper in Kansas City and regionally, and was owned and operated by Franklin until his death on May 7, 1955.
The first edition of the Kansas City Call or The Call, was published on May 6, 1919. It was one of 22 newspapers published by Kansas City’s African American community near the beginning of the 20th century, but the only one that survived past 1943. Starting as an inauspicious four-page paper, the paper soon grew to one of the most successful black newspapers in the nation.
On August 30, 1901, Roy Wilkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri. From a modest background, Wilkins would go on to graduate from the University of Minnesota, become the editor of The Call newspaper, and lead the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for more than two decades at the height of the civil rights movement.