Chester Arthur and Ada Crogman Franklin

portrait of Chester Arthur and Ada Crogman Franklin
Franklin (Photo Credit: Black Archives of Mid-America)

1880 – 1955, ca. 1885 – 1983

By the time Chester Franklin arrived in Kansas City in 1913, he was well experienced in the newspaper business. Born in 1880 in Texas and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, he acquired an appreciation for the written word from his father, who ran a barbershop before going into newspaper publishing. After two years of study at the University of Nebraska, Chester launched newspapers in Omaha and Denver, Colorado, before settling in Kansas City. It took hard work and dedication, but he was determined to start a newspaper for the city’s thriving Black communities. His dream became a reality with the founding of The Call in a one-room office in 1919. With the help of “Mother” Franklin, as his mother Clara was known around the office, The Call grew into one of the most widely circulated Black newspapers in the Midwest. Eventually, Franklin purchased a building at 1715 E. 18th Street to house the publication and made the third floor his residence. Today, The Call continues to operate from the building.

Ada Crogman was born in Atlanta around 1885 to William H. and Lavinia Crogman. Her father was president of Clark College, and education was a priority for the family. After high school, Ada graduated from both Clark and Emerson College in Boston. Schooled in the dramatic arts, she pursued teaching before developing a hit educational stage production, Milestones of Race. During a tour stop in Kansas City, she met Chester Franklin. The two hit it off and were married in 1925, and Ada joined her new husband in Kansas City and in running The Call.

The Franklins championed the city’s Black neighborhoods and supported early civil rights causes. By 1955, their newspaper, once given away for free, had expanded to a print run of 30,000 copies per week -- with local, regional, and national editions. When Chester died in May 1955, Ada took over as publisher and kept The Call committed to Chester’s high standards of journalistic quality and civic mindedness.

She continued publishing The Call until her health declined. Ada passed away in 1983. Both she and her husband are buried in Highland Cemetery in Kansas City.