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THE CALL still answers the need for advocacy in Kansas City

THE CALL Kansas City
Posted at 9:56 AM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 19:56:08-05

Over a century of storytelling.

From struggles to success — trials and triumphs.

Kansas City’s "THE CALL" has been there to cover it all.

THE CALL is one of two Black-owned newspapers in Kansas City. In 1919, Texas native Chester Arthur Franklin moved from Denver to Kansas City to start the paper and was in charge for over 40 years.

“He started it to be an advocacy newspaper for issues that were taking place in the Black community,” said Eric L. Wesson Sr., THE CALL’s current publisher and editor.

Franklin’s successor, Lucile H. Bluford, continued the paper’s legacy, being a voice and activist of the Black community.

“She was a very cutting edge woman in the time that she grew up so she was a legend so to speak,” Wesson said.

After serving on the staff for nearly 20 years, Wesson is now at the helm, ensuring the purpose remains the same.

“We still have to be a voice,” Wesson said. “There is still a need for advocacy in our community. We need somebody to say, ‘Hey, we need to look at this, we need to look at that. Why is this like this and why is that like that.'"

A few miles south of THE CALL is Niecie's Restaurant.

Since starting her business in 1985, owner Denise Ward has recognized the paper’s impact.

“After finding out that THE CALL paper was a big part of the community then, we decided that we needed to bring it in, have it available for our customers, ” Ward said.

Patrons of Niece’s know that not only can they get a good soul food meal but grab a copy of THE CALL.

“It speaks of Black culture, Black heritage,” DeAnthony Thomas said.

He comes to the restaurant a couple of times a week.

“It shows that Black are worth more than just a sounding board. That Blacks are involved in more than just existing and looking for handouts. They are involved in so much in the world today,” Thomas said.

100 years is no small feat. Wesson believes that THE CALL will be needed for years to come.

Since THE CALL’s inception, the paper has come out every week.

Wesson hopes he’s making the one’s in charge before him proud.

“Our stories still need to be told. Whether it’s the last 100 years, the next 100 years, the next 100 years after that, our stories still need to be told and we need to be the ones to tell it," he said.

THE CALL plans to update the website and have a smartphone app available before spring, making it easier for readers to have the latest news.