Saturday, February 24, 2018

Like A Paul Simon Song

Hello! I'm old enough to remember when Paul Simon's song, "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" was a hit in 1972. And having grown up Catholic, I was always amused by this part of the song: "And when the radical priest come to get me released we was all on the cover of Newsweek."

What do these lines have to do with my post? Well, I'm about to show off some vintage photos that represent a bit of "radical" priestliness!

The backstory: my husband was a student at a Catholic high school in the 1970's, and while there some photos came into his possession. He was told that one of the priests in the photos had a connection to his high school, but that's all he was told. 

I encountered these pics during a recent cabinet decluttering and decided to find out more about them. Between a close perusal of the photos and a bit of Internet research, I determined that the pictures had a connection to the Catholic University of America, which is in Washington, DC. 

The photos appear to be of a civil rights protest. Someone had written "C.U. May 4th 1964" on the back of one of the pics, which led me to believe the protest was related to the ongoing politicking surrounding the Civil Rights Act. It was signed into law on July 2nd that year. 

Above, the "radical priests"and some students carrying protest signs have congregated in front of Caldwell Hall on the CUA campus.(that name was visible in some of the photos, which is how I was able to determine where the action had occurred).

Another view of the gathered crowd.

In the front of the crowd, the priests are playing guitars and leading the singing. I found myself wondering what songs they were performing.

Some of the signs read "Civil Rights - A Moral Issue", "Moral Witness for Civil Rights", "Catholic Students for The Bill" and my favorite, "Come! See The Real Professional Bigot" (the large rectangular sign visible in the lower right side of the photo). Alas, I have no idea who the "professional bigot" was supposed to be. 

A close-up of some of the signs. 

At some point, the protest moved to some sort of gymnasium or auditorium. 

Warning: the next photo may be disturbing to some, but in the context of what was going on, not surprising.

Look at me, I'm waving the Confederate flag in defiance. Yippee! A police officer looks on behind him.

Our "radical priests" have brought their guitars and bongo drums to the locale. 

A close-up of the above photo:

This particular photo is noteworthy because of the stamp on its back, identifying that it had been taken by a United Press International employee. Obviously, the protest was newsworthy enough to have gotten the attention of UPI.
I'm showing off this set of photos because of their historical content, and also because they're no longer in our possession. In the spirit of InCoWriMo (mentioned in this post), I decided to mail them to the CUA archives office, along with a brief note. I wrote that I hoped they'd find the photos of interest, and to please contact me if they had information on the event related to them. My Internet research hadn't come up with anything. 

The priests in the photos may not have ended up on the cover of Newsweek, but their protest, like others of its kind around the country then, may have very well had something to do with the ultimate passage of the Civil Rights Act.  




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