Thursday, May 31, 2012

Intolerance in Colorado: An attack on Regis University

Keeping with the theme of intolerance in Colorado, I include the picture to the right. It is of a plaque on the west wall of Regis
University along Lowell Blvd. in Denver Colorado. Regis is a Jesuit run university. When the Jesuits relocated their school from Las Vegas, New Mexico to Morrison, Colorado, and finally to Denver in the 1880s, it had the very Catholic sounding name of Sacred Heart. In the mid-1920s some bigots in white sheets showed up at the gates of Sacred Heart, but the students amply defended themselves and their school. Fearing a recurrence of violence, the Jesuit fathers thought it might be a good idea in the anti-Catholic environment of the 1920s to change the name of the school to something a little less obvious. Thus they re-named their school Regis, after a 17th century French Jesuit named John Francis Regis who was canonized in 1737. Renaming the school to Regis was a wise move that allowed the Jesuits to retain their heritage and dodge the bigots who knew only the most obvious signs of Catholicism. The plaque reads, "This portion of the old permitter wall has been preserved in remembrance of a student stand against the Ku Klux Klan. In the mid-1920s, according to Jesuits here at the time, word filtered to the priests that the KKK was planning a march on Regis [Sacred Heart] with the intent to burn a cross on the lawn. The jesuits put out a call to students -both boarders and day students- to protect the campus and bring baseball bats. The call was heeded and Regis [Sacred Heart] students were posted ever five feet armed with bats. The KKK, which was organizing a few blocks from campus, received word of the student buildup and disbanded without marching on the campus. Later, the Jesuits found that some of the students were armed with more than baseball bats. Some had brought along pistols."

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