Challenging the Catholic church: Constructing a social ethics of racial solidarity

Krista Leeann Stevens, Fordham University


Lost in the din of segregationist fervor of 1950s Alabama, is the largely unknown story of Spring Hill College, a Jesuit college in Mobile that quietly began integrating its classes in 1954. The SHC story is an American story, a Catholic story, and a Jesuit story that offers a unique glimpse into the interplay of history and theology in the middle of the twentieth century. The story of SHC’s integration exemplifies both the complexities of the US Catholic Church’s engagement with the particular historical society in which it finds itself (in this case a highly racialized and segregated Southern society) and the contributions that an institution that takes seriously its Catholic identity can make to eradicating unjust practices and laws. Spring Hill’s integration exemplifies a nascent Catholic recognition of social sin and solidarity with the poor, and moreover, reflected in important ways, an early use of the methodological tools of what would come to be known as liberation theology.

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Recommended Citation

Stevens, Krista Leeann, "Challenging the Catholic church: Constructing a social ethics of racial solidarity" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3719475.