Episode 169

In 1913 the Florida legislature passed a law forbidding white teachers from teaching in black schools. This wasn’t the first time the Florida legislature had passed laws trying to keep their schools segregated. This law, however, was aimed squarely at Catholic schools like St. Benedict the Moor School in St. Augustine, Florida. The Sisters of St. Joseph, who had been teaching black children in Florida since 1867, were not willing to comply with the unjust law. Their bishops, first William Kenny, then Michael Curley, backed them to the hilt and, when the governor of Florida ordered the sisters arrested, Bishop Curley took the matter to court. The law was thrown out after a short trial and the sisters returned to the classroom. Bishop Curley and the sisters had to resist more attempts to undermine their freedoms, until Florida abandoned its Jim Crow ways.

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