"Racism is a God-damned thing!"

If you are not reading historian Pat McNamara’s weekly column In Ages Past, you’re missing great profiles, of American Catholics who impacted this nation in dramatic and often downright exhausting ways.

This week, say hello to Father John Markoe, S.J. – football star, soldier, alcoholic, priest, and a civil rights activist a few decades ahead of the rest:

Born in 1890 to a blueblood family whose ancestors included Benjamin Franklin, John Prince Markoe was the son of a prominent Minnesota doctor. At 18 he was accepted to West Point, but deferred the appointment in order to go west, to work on the railroads. In 1910, he entered the military academy, where his friends included Dwight Eisenhower. He played football against Knute Rockne and Jim Thorpe, and was named an honorably-mentioned All-American.

When he graduated in 1914, the yearbook said: “Possessing unlimited abilities, there is very little which he is incapable of performing.” But he earned his classmates’ contempt when he stood up for Marcus Alexander, the Point’s only African-American cadet. His final class ranking might have been higher, had Markoe not been a full-fledged alcoholic by his senior year.

Yeah, yeah, another Catholic in a battle with the bottle, but read on! There is a movie to be made on the life of this handsome fellow, who once tried to fight an entire bar (it took a half-dozen cops to pull him out of there) and spent his whole life walking against the wind. What a movie his life would make!

Read it all. And be sure to visit McNamara’s blog, every day, for interesting lessons in American Catholic history!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6SQWADITZPYHKSWSM5ONMDI52I Greta

    Racism is obvious to most when you see it. Today I think a large majority of people are against racism. However, it has also been a subject that is being abused where racism is yelled that does not exist. I grew up with racism in the city where I lived. I suspect it was in many cities back in the 50′s and I suspect as many were in the North as the South, but less clearly posted. Many people rallied around change and supported what they heard from Martin Luther King. Who could deny we be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.

    We lived in a mixed neighborhood and what I saw in the black family at the time was a very strong moral and ethical foundation. Often their yards were the best kept even if not the most expensively furnished. Each day they went to work and yet both mom and dad were involved with their kids. A single black mother trying to raise kids was very rare unless the dad had died as we saw few abandon their family. I would say we were all together is a lower middle class neighborhood.

    Fast forward to what we see today in the black community after Roe vs Wade and the government solutions to poverty. These programs in my view created the changes we see today. The cause of MLK seemed to be missing a key element. The Black leadership wanted to make blacks victims and through this create the need for a special right or allowance based on skin color and if if not supported was racist. Rather than fight for schools that worked for everyone, many of the new leadership fought any standards that would show how poorly the kids were doing in the schools. Rather than seek to improve based on content of character and hard work, we were to provide some handout and look the other way as if the black person could not make the grade without these government support or color based decisions.

    I Forr me, I am sick of being labeled a racist if you have a different vviewpoint on how to “actually” help the poor. Support the accepted solutions of big government and attacks on the “rich” or you are a racist. SAD and I suspect if you had gone back to this priest and told him what the plans were, he would probably have predicted the outcome we see in many black neighborhoods. And yes, I know using the term black is racist in some peoples viewpoint. It is like not bowing to the gay lifestyle is normal and actually agreeing with the actual teaching of the Catholic Church.

  • kellyb

    I love McNamara’s blog. He always has something interesting to teach me.

  • Jeff

    Another catholic in a battle with the bottle? Sounds like something michael bloomberg would say.

  • Dan

    I’m kind of sickened by people going off on racism in ages past. It almost always seems to me to smack of ingratiation.

    Then I go to on to ask, ———– which group is it that someone is trying to ingratiate themselves with.

    You want a target to go after?

    Go after mohammadenism, go after jihadist mohammadenism.

    It’s easy to go off on racism in days gone by.

    But meanwhile, in the here and the now, Christians are being slaughtered by mohammadens, all because they refuse “to submit.

  • jeff

    I couldn’t agree more. well said.