This Day in Black History: Sept. 21, 1947

St. Louis Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter threatened to excommunicate parents who fought against the integration of the city's Catholic schools.

Posted: 09/21/2012 11:15 AM EDT

On Sept. 21, 1947, Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter threatened to excommunicate church members who planned to protest his decision to integrate the Catholic schools in St. Louis.

The morning of Sept. 21, ahead of a rally planned by 700 white parents who planned to sue Ritter, the Archbishop released a statement claiming those who participated in any lawsuit against integration would face "the serious penalty of excommunication," thus barring them from church practice.

Ritter’s decision to integrate Catholic schools came seven years before the city’s public schools were forced to integrate under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

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(Photo: Courtesy of Buell White/Post-Dispatch)

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