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Tuesday, 27 March 2012 22:54


I have had a lifelong relationship with both Boston College and the Jesuit order which runs it.  I graduated from B.C. High and from, the way it was often referred to in my old Dorchester neighborhood, to distinguish it from the high school, “BC College”.  My uncle, Rev. Maurice V. Dullea SJ, was a BC Jesuit and a campus icon in many ways. More on this in an appendix.  In addition, my wife,my father, my brother, my daughter, and many lifelong friends and family members went to either or both schools.  My sister both attended BC and also worked there.  She was also the leading force behind my siblings and myself setting up the Rev.Maurice V. Dullea SJ Scholarship Fund, which is part of the BCAD's Flynn Fund.I make a four-figure contribution to the Fund each year.


I have been to countless BC football, basketball, and hockey games over the decades, and I remain a season ticket holder in football and basketball  I recently framed and donated to BC Athletic Director Gene deFilippo a large and historic felt banner commemorating the accomplishments of the 1940 BC Sugar Bowl team.  I am hoping to see it prominently displayed soon in a Yawkey Center trophy case (hint, hint).


I suppose all of the above would describe me as a BC “lifer” - someone who“bleeds maroon and gold”.  And that's probably accurate.


In undertaking to have Lou Montgomery's experiences at BC more widely known and understood, I am in no way out to “get” BC for any personal reason,real or imagined.  I have no such issues with the school or with anyone now or previously associated with it.


If BC were a private secular institution or a public university, I would have not pursued this.  The expectations of a secular or a publicly funded university would be much lower.  It would merely be expected to represent, and to act in accordance with, the values of the prevailing popular culture and majority political sentiments of the day.  In the south, that would clearly mean the strict adherence to the ruling Jim Crow dictates of the region.  These were largely based on the prevailing notion that blacks were sub-human, ownable, and capable only of providing slave labor, or, at best, menial services. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which produced the Jim Crow doctrine of Separate But Equal, guaranteed that whites would maintain control over blacks in every meaningful way.  In the north, things were not always much better for blacks.  An institution of higher education had only to appear not to discriminate against African Americans, while quietly limiting opportunities of every kind.


But Christian philosophy, as interpreted and lectured about in Jesuit classrooms,clearly demanded more of its adherents: more compassion; more brotherhood;more fairness; more Christian charity; more compassion and empathy; more“what you do for the least of my brethren, you do for me”.  But those who ran BC at the time clearly wanted to both have their ethical/philosophical/theological cake, and to eat it as well.  Their series of ever-escalating Faustian bargains in 1939, 1940, and 1941 leave no doubt that a double standard existed (“Do what we say, not what we do”), and if that was the price of running with college football's top dogs, then so be it, even if it required the frequent and repeated subjugation and humiliation of one of it's own community of student-athletes.


In all fairness, despite its actions with regard to Lou Montgomery, BC actually performed better than similar Catholic institutions of higher learning, such as the Catholic University of America and fellow Jesuit Georgetown University, both located in the nation's capitol.  As is mentioned in somewhat greater detail in one of my appendices, both of these schools not only failed to integrate their own athletic teams at that time, but through use of the Gentlemen's Agreement and racially restrictive clauses in athletic contracts, they also refused to allow visiting teams from the north and other non-Jim Crow regions to bring their own black athletes.


Other Catholic schools, including one I can find described only as “Loyola College of California” (which I believe became Loyola Mary mount University, located in Los Angeles) also agreed to leave black players at home when they traveled into the south and southwest.  And how about Notre Dame?  In my research, I didn't find much on the Fighting Irish.The university itself refused to admit black students at all until 1944.There is one one curious story concerning an encounter by Notre Dame with a more northerly college basketball team, when ND traveled to Detroit  in February of 1934.  I mention it in an appendix.To its credit, the Boston College of today is among the nation's leaders in navigating those tricky crossroads where higher education and high-level college sports intersect.  It has for years been cited in official NCAA statistics as being among the elite institutions of higher learning when it comes to the highly important category of graduation rates of varsity athletes, both white and black alike.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 April 2012 10:27

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