Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New in the Archives: The Catholic Interracial Council of the Twin Cities

Did you know that College of St. Catherine alumni were instrumental in establishing interracial justice in the Twin Cities during the 1950s and 1960s?

The Archives and Special Collections recently acquired organizational records of the Catholic Interracial Council of the Twin Cities (CICTC). The CICTC was started in the spring of 1958 by several young people in the local community. Troubled by segregation and the struggles of minority groups in the United States, the group based its mission on “striving to apply Catholic principles on racial matters and racial problems faced by the local communities".

The collection was donated by Patricia Parlin Caponi, a 1952 graduate of the College of St. Catherine. She was a founding member of the organization, serving as Secretary from 1958-1959. A 1959 member list shows the organization had over 100 members, including photographer Gordon Parks and a large constituency of nuns, priests, and other clergy. 

Notable CICTC events included speakers on race relations, a yearly Human Rights Workshop, and community outreach. In fact, the first CICTC Human Rights Workshop was held on our campus with free attendance for students. You can read the full article in the October 14, 1959 issue of The Wheel.
Along with local events, the group partnered with the Friendship House in Chicago, Illinois. The Friendship House had created a Home Visit Program in which Caucasian participants would visit Black homes, encouraging positive dialogue and understanding between the races.

Thanks to the efforts of Patricia Parlin Caponi, her sister, Nancy Parlin, and other alumnae, the Catholic Interracial Council of the Twin Cities was able to make a positive impact during the turbulent times of the late 1950s – mid-1960s. One more reason to be proud to be a Katie!

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