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Principles Versus Prejudices

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Principles Versus Prejudices
National Federation of Catholic College Students
The Social Action Secretariat: Publications 1960

The Social Action Secretariat: Events 1960-1966
The Social Action Secretariat: Activism 1660-1966
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The Roots of Social Action at Manhattanville (1933-1938)

At the start of the 1930s, the college consisted of just over 200 students. Though small, the school confronted the decade with a unique spirit and made headlines across the nation. It was not only the decision to admit an African American student in 1938 that captivated America, but also the passionate defense of this decision offered by college president G Dammann, R.S.C.J. that would establish Manhattanville as a true leader in the field of social action.

Manhattanville Resolutions, The Manhattanville Resolutions, May 3, 1933.

These resolutions mark the first decisive action by the Manhattanville community to condemn the racial discrimination of the day.

John Lafarge, SJ letter to Grace Dammann, RSJCJohn LaFarge, S.J. Letter to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. February 17, 1938.

Impressed by Manhattanville's independent spirit, Father John LaFarge approached President Dammann regarding the admission of an African American student.

DammannLetterBodkinthumbGrace Dammann, R.S.C.J. Letter to Gertrude Bodkin, R.S.C.J. February 19, 1938.

President Dammann asked for counsel from Reverend Mother Bodkin two days after Father LaFarge's letter.

Gurtrude Bodkin, RSCJ Response to Grace Dammann, RSCJGertrude Bodkin, R.S.C.J. Letter to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. February 22, 1938.

Reverend Mother Bodkin responded with assurances that students would have no problems with an African American student, but warns however, "Those who will feel worst about it are some of our own nuns and the Alumnae." Days later the admission is put to a vote with 80% of students voting in favor of allowing the student to attend.

Protest Letter from Anonymous AlumniAnonymous Alumnae. Letter of Protest. May 1938.

Hearing of the decision, seven anonymous alumnae mailed this letter to alumnae, family members, and friends of the college. The letter asked alumnae to respond by Class Day May 31, 1938.

alt"The Indignant Present." Letter of Protest to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. May 1938.

alt"An Old Graduate." Letter of Protest to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. May 19, 1938.

Letter of Support from Mrs. J.W. DigglesLetter of Support to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. May 15, 1938.

Letters of support far outnumbered the letters of protest sent to Mother Dammann.
"I wish to commend you for your progressive step in admitting young ladies regardless of their race into the full privileges of Manhattanville College."

Cox Telegram supporting DammannTelegram of Support to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. May 17, 1938.

"Protest with heartfelt dismay the recent anonymous letter which I received concerning your just and splendid decision..."

Letter of SupportLetter of Support to Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. May 1938.

"Since it asked for letters of protest, I think it only fair for that letters of agreement also be sent."

Invitation to Class Day 1938Invitation to Class Day, May 31, 1938

Principles vs Prejudices Draft with notesTypescript draft of the "Principles Versus Prejudices" speech with handwritten notes by Grace Dammann, R.S.C.J. 1938.

Principles vs Prejudices postscript"Principles Versus Prejudices". Tower Postscript. Summer 1938.

President Dammann's speech was reprinted in this alumnae publication as well as several national publications including The Interracial Review.

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