Crossing Parish Boundaries: Race, Sports, And Catholic Youth In Chicago, 1914-1954

Hardcover | October 14, 2016

byTimothy B. Neary

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Controversy erupted in spring 2001 when Chicago’s mostly white Southside Catholic Conference youth sports league rejected the application of the predominantly black St. Sabina grade school. Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, interracialism seemed stubbornly unattainable, and the national spotlight once again turned to the history of racial conflict in Catholic parishes. It’s widely understood that midcentury, working class, white ethnic Catholics were among the most virulent racists, but, as Crossing Parish Boundaries shows, that’s not the whole story.
            In this book, Timothy B. Neary reveals the history of Bishop Bernard Sheil’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which brought together thousands of young people of all races and religions from Chicago’s racially segregated neighborhoods to take part in sports and educational programming. Tens of thousands of boys and girls participated in basketball, track and field, and the most popular sport of all, boxing, which regularly filled Chicago Stadium with roaring crowds. The history of Bishop Sheil and the CYO shows a cosmopolitan version of American Catholicism, one that is usually overshadowed by accounts of white ethnic Catholics aggressively resisting the racial integration of their working-class neighborhoods. By telling the story of Catholic-sponsored interracial cooperation within Chicago, Crossing Parish Boundaries complicates our understanding of northern urban race relations in the mid-twentieth century.

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Controversy erupted in spring 2001 when Chicago’s mostly white Southside Catholic Conference youth sports league rejected the application of the predominantly black St. Sabina grade school. Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, interracialism seemed stubbornly unattainable, and the national spotlight once again turned to the h...

Timothy B. Neary is associate professor of history at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and executive director of the Urban History Association.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:October 14, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022638876X

ISBN - 13:9780226388762

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Table of Contents

Introduction. “Building Men, Not Just Fighters”
1. Minority within a Minority: African Americans Encounter Catholicism in the Urban North
2. “We Had Standing”: Black and Catholic in Bronzeville
3. For God and Country: Bishop Sheil and the CYO
4. African American Participation in the CYO
5. The Fight Outside the Ring: Antiracism in the CYO
6. “Ahead of His Time”: The Legacy of Bishop Sheil and the Unfulfilled Promise of Catholic Interracialism
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Neary’s Crossing Parish Boundaries tells an unexpected story. Previous historians have depicted the high walls of segregation dividing white ethnic neighborhoods from Chicago’s African American ghettos. Yet in the middle decades of the twentieth century, Chicago’s Catholic Youth Organization promoted interracial sports. In an era otherwise characterized by deep ethnic tensions, even violence, especially between the children of immigrants and the new black migrants to the city, Neary shows us how local Catholic leaders and parishioners deliberately and successfully resisted the bigotry of their times. Crossing Parish Boundaries is a fine book, merging urban history, social history, and sports history in an elegant and insightful narrative.”