Caption: St. Louis Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter relaxing in his study on Oct. 8, 1946, the day of his installation at the St. Louis Cathedral, 4431 Lindell Boulevard. Ritter, a native of New Albany, Ind., had been bishop and archbishop of Indianapolis for 12 years when he became archbishop of St. Louis at age 54. He had integrated the Catholic schools in Indianapolis several years before, and met little opposition there. In summer 1947, he instructed St. Louis-area Catholic schools to admit black students. Until then, black Catholic children had gone to a few parochial grade schools on the edge of downtown and to St. Joseph's High school, 4123 Page Avenue. When schools opened in September, several hundred angry white parents held public meetings and announced plans to oppose Ritter in court. On the morning of Sunday, Sept. 21, 1947, parish priests read an open letter from Ritter during all Masses. He wrote that opponents of integration were being "gravely misled" and threatened excommunication to anyone who took part in such a lawsuit. (Post-Dispatch)
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