But Think of the Kids: Catholic Interracialists and the Great American Taboo of Race Mixing

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2010-11-27 18:03Z by Steven

But Think of the Kids: Catholic Interracialists and the Great American Taboo of Race Mixing

U.S. Catholic Historian
Volume 16, Number 3
Sources of Social Reform, Part One (Summer, 1998)
pages 67-93

David W. Southern, Cotton Professor of History
Westminster College, Fulton Missouri

After requesting church funds for the Catholic Interracial Council of New York (CICNY) in the late 1930s, Father John LaFarge, the foremost Catholic integrationist in the first half of the twentieth century, found he had to justify his plea before James Francis Mclntyre, the much-feared chancellor of the archdiocese of New York, A mean-spirited and authoritarian bishop, Mclntyre had earlier warned the CICNY that church work among African Americans should stress religious conversion rather than social and economic reform. Even though Mclntyre’s conservative attitude was known, LaFarge was startled when the bishop unexpectedly punctuated their meeting by accusing him of advocating interracial marriage.

Mclntyre’s charge was preposterous. Before the post-civil rights era, few American liberals, including African Americans, advocated interracial marriage. While the militant black leader W. E. B. Du Bois preached that no one of his race could sanction antimiscegenation laws that were based on the innate inferiority of African Americans, he did not make the repeal of such laws a high priority. As editor of the Crisis in the 1910s and 1920s, he mostly reported successes in defeating newly proposed antimiscegenation laws in Washington, D.C., and in northern states; and like most white liberals, he insisted that 999 out of each thousand black men had no desire to many white women…

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