In light of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, citizens of the United States of America were forced to examine their own attitudes concerning race matters. The practice of racial segregation at home contradicted the American values of freedom and democracy promoted abroad. For Catholics in the southern United States, this examination was most challenging because they gradually came to understand that the practice of racial segregation was a direct violation of Christian precepts. How racial segregation was introduced into the Catholic Church and how it was dismantled was the focus of this presentation.
R. Bentley Anderson SJ is an assistant professor of history at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2001 he received his doctorate in United States History from Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts). His dissertation focused on the issue of race and Catholic education in twentieth-century New Orleans, Louisiana. His book “Black, White, and Catholic: New Orleans Interracialism, 1947-1956” is forthcoming this fall from Vanderbilt University Press.