Catholic Liberal Interracialism in the Archdiocese of Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s
Ryan, Kevin Daniel
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Through the 1960s and 1970s, racially liberal Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago initiated campaigns and programs to overcome white racial ignorance and bias. Catholic liberals believed it was necessary to change how white people viewed minorities, primarily African Americans. Altering white racial attitudes would lead to better race relations and provide additional benefits for African Americans and other minorities. To accomplish this task, Catholic liberals primarily relied on two strategies. One was to convince whites to live in integrated communities. Persuading whites to accept black neighbors would help facilitate stable integration. This belief served as the foundation of the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago’s strategy to help integrate the suburb of Skokie in 1961 and St. Philip Neri School in 1964-1965. Catholic liberals also used interracial contact to change how hostile and ignorant whites perceived minorities, especially African Americans. Many Catholic liberals maintained that interracial exchanges and relationships would help breakdown white racism and, in some instances, even bolster antipoverty and civil rights campaigns. Catholic liberals put this theory into practice through several interracial programs in the later 1960s and 1970s, namely the Archdiocesan Inter-Parish Movement, a voluntary Catholic school busing plan called Operation Hospitality, and the parish Twinning/Sharing program. Through these various campaigns and programs, Catholic liberals were able to facilitate interracial contact, change the way some whites felt about minorities, and help a handful of African Americans gain access to a white suburb and a white Catholic school. However, interracial contact, for the most part, was quite limited. Furthermore, these strategies, at times, produced unequal interracialism. More importantly, Catholic liberal efforts to change white racial views produced few benefits for African Americans.