Author Activities

March 26, 2014
Channel 19 Video Presentation

Over a year ago I drove my grandson and his Black friend who identified himself as an Israelite, to Milwaukee to see St. Benedict's church.  On the way, I responded to questions from the friend and once we arrived in Milwaukee, I gave them a tour of the Church.  

Both read my book on the  history of St. Benedict's and were interested in seeing the church.  As I answered his inquires regarding the history book, our conversation led to the racism book.  Most of his friend's pointed questions related to the book.  My answering questions as I drove them to Milwaukee and my giving them of the tour took 2 hours all of which my grandson  taped.

Saint Benedict the Moor

My grandson submitted the tape to Chicago's public radio station, Channel 19.  To my surprise, the Channel ran the tape three times over the past two weeks.  I have received numerous calls from friends who were not aware of the book and who stated that they sat through the entire 2  hours of the tape.  They expressed support of the positions I expressed on the tape.

February 20, 2014
National Catholic Reporter Article Published

The National Catholic Reporter recently interviewed me and subsequently published the following article first in their Jan 31-Feb 13 weekend print edition and now on their web site:

Here is the text of the article:

Where are the African-American cardinals?

When Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals Jan. 12, many Catholics cheered what seemed to be an emphasis on diversity, with half of the red hats going to bishops from non-European countries, including parts of the developing world.
But Dolores Foster Williams of Chicago was not exactly pleased.
"I didn't note any African-Americans on the list," said the 84-year-old Williams, who has made eradicating racism in the church her life's work.
A retired teacher and the author of Institutional Racism in the Catholic Church, Williams sees the lack of an African-American cardinal as the "undeniable tip of the church racism iceberg."
"The cardinals are the ones who elect the pope, so we have no representation there. Why aren't we at the table?" The answer, she says, is blatant racism and nepotism.
Preview theReligious Lifesection from our Feb. 14-27 edition.
"Caucasian priests who became cardinals were trained either in Diocesan seminaries or Order seminaries, and their upward progressions appear to have been fostered by influential individuals within those domains," Williams wrote on her blog in September.
And the elevation of African cardinals, while important, doesn't count, she says: "Africans and African-Americans are culturally different."
Williams spoke with NCR in December and again this week after the announcement of the new cardinals. With an apron around her waist and a gold cross around her neck, she welcomed me into her South Side of Chicago home, tastefully decorated with African art, and shared her own experiences of racism in the church.
"I'm not looking to make a name for myself," she said. "I'm not interested in being a spokesman for anything, but I feel it should be known. Something should be done."
In her book, Williams details the church's history of institutional racism, from the segregation of the past to the even more insidious, de facto segregated church attendance of today. That, combined with an unjust decline in support for struggling African-American congregations and schools, has led to the closing of black parishes all over the country, she says.
Williams' own parish, Corpus Christi in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, is struggling for its survival. She grew up in the parish but remembers African-Americans having to sit in the back of another church. After her parents divorced, she and her siblings spent some time at a Catholic home for children where, as the first African-Americans there, they once again were segregated at a separate dining table.
She had a more positive experience at St. Benedict the Moor, an all-black boarding school in Milwaukee, although she said that institution, too, had a history of racism. Still, Williams recalls the white nuns who taught there as "never doubting our ability to learn."
When she entered the liberal arts program at St. Xavier College in Chicago, Williams was one of three African-American students. The two others left, leaving Williams to graduate in 1951 as the first African-American in the program. She went on to earn a master's degree in education from Loyola University.
She and her husband moved into the Chatham neighborhood in the 1950s, when it was still predominantly white, and joined the solidly Irish St. Dorothy Parish. Outspoken about what she saw as issues in the school, Williams says she didn't fit in.
"I know there was a difference in the way they reacted to African-Americans versus Caucasians," she says. "I saw it as racial."
After a 36-year career in education with Chicago Public Schools, Williams completed the archdiocesan lay ministry program and has been involved in the National Black Catholic Congress. She also has written a history of St. Benedict the Moor School.
She tirelessly and energetically continues to speak out about her dream of an African-American cardinal, engaging anyone who will listen.
A recent letter to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago resulted in a response accompanied by a copy of his letter to parishes about racism. "Just a letter in a bulletin doesn't do it, as far as I'm concerned," Williams said.
Yet she is hopeful that Pope Francis, who has already shaken up the church with his open style and emphasis on justice, will turn his attention to what Williams calls "a sin in one sense more grievous than the priest abuse scandal, because more individuals have been affected."
With Cardinal George set to retire, Williams is campaigning for Bishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, an African-American Chicago native who served as president of the bishops' conference. "Of all the bishops I know, he would be the best one," she says. "He would be perfect."
[Heidi Schlumpf teaches communication at Aurora University outside Chicago.]
This story appeared in the Jan 31-Feb 13, 2014 print issue under the headline: Where are the African-American cardinals? 

November 18, 2013
Interview with National Catholic Reporter journalist, Heidi Schlumpf.

Heidi was assigned by the editors at the National Catholic Reporter ( to write an article about the substance issues in my book, Institutional Racism and the Catholic Church. She arrived at my house on Monday, November 18th at the agreed upon time. Respectful and gracious, she posed a series of questions the answers of which are detailed in my book.  Confessing she hadn't read the book, I gave her a copy along with a copy of my St. Benedict the Moor history book.


In response to questions I posed to her, Heidi told me that she is originally from Wisconsin and that her aunt volunteers at St. Benedict the Moor's meal program. She either knew about or was acquainted with Cardinal Timothy Dolan because she responded to my criticism about the Cardinal being elevated to the level of cardinal after his questionable tenure as archbishop of Milwaukee.  She stated that an appointment to the New York seat automatically comes with the title of cardinal. She picked up on my preoccupation about there not being an African American cardinal.  

The length of the interview went two hours because without having read the book she did not have a sense of the depth of my preoccupation with Roman Catholic hierarchical insensitivity to racism. 

Before leaving, Heidi asked what motivated me to write the book. I explained that based upon hints of racism described in my history of St. Benedict's, my editor encouraged me to write another book chronicling racist acts against me as well as other African Americans. I named Father Steven Arvella, a Jesuit professor at Marquette University, whom I felt made a disparaging statement about St. Benedict's students in a newsletter article he wrote that was on display at the Milwaukee Historical Society. I explained that after reading the article I was on a mission to counteract negative impressions the article conveyed. She apparently knew about Father Arvella because she referred to him as Dr. Arvella.  

She showed interest in dates -- the year my book was published, the length of time I lived in Milwaukee, the grades I was in at St. Benedict's as well as my age.

Ms. Schlumpf expressed no judgments as she persistently quizzed me. She appeared to believe that white racist attitudes against African Americans do exist; she asked my opinion about how the situation could be remedied. I explained that one step could be for well-meaning whites who when in the company of their peers hear disparaging statements against African Americans that they could engage them in conversation about the unreasonableness of their statements.  I also expressed criticism of church bishops, etc. sending out pronouncements discouraging racist actions without directing follow-up actions and monitoring results.

She asked what I expected to get out of having the book publicized, if I personally was looking for recognition. I responded that I was not looking for notoriety, but I hoped that by shedding more light on racist and sexist issues in the Roman Catholic Church some change would ensue.  She asked if I planned to remain in the Catholic Church. I explained that as long as my church, Corpus Christi,  remained open I would remain in the Church because my roots at Corpus Christi go back to when its church membership changed from Irish to African American. 

Heidi concluded that if she had any further questions she would get back to me. She did not have a recorder but took paper and pencil notes during the interview. 


Hopefully, Jamie Manson, the National Catholic Reporter book review editor, has read the book and will have her review printed in an upcoming edition of the National Catholic Reporter. With the popularity of the movie and book Twelve Years a Slave and the movie and book of The Butler I would think that my book has some relevance. 

November 2-3, 2013
Call to Action Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The weekend at the Call to Action Conference in Milwaukee went well. My prime reason for going was to hear what the Saturday morning panelists had to say about "The Future of Catholic Ministry."  After the panel, I went on the stage and had one-to-one interactions with all of the panelists (Garry Wills, Jamie Manson, Maureen Fiedler, Diana Hayes, and Fr. Roy Bourgeois).

Before attending the Conference I was referred to Jamie by a National Catholic Reporter staff member who suggested that I send Ms. Manson a copy of my Institutional Racism and the Catholic Church book along with a cover letter. I followed through on her suggestion. When I approached Ms. Manson, she indicated that she was well aware of my book and that her editorial board has discussed it. 

I explained it appeared that the main focus of the panel discussion was  women priests, married priests and the need to pull in youth. I continued, as far as Catholic youth are concerned, the Institutional Catholic Church is irrelevant baring significant reforms. I asked Ms. Manson to at least  review my book and pass on her opinion regarding it. She promised that she would. I told her the book was in the mail.

Maureen Fiedler was excellent as the moderator. The questions she posed to the panelists were on target. I had no idea that Fr. Bourgeois had spent time in prison regarding his activism. I had a brief conversation with him while he autographed the book I purchased.

I read the book that evening and noted the shameful involvement of the Catholic hierarchy in Latin America.

Sunday, September 8, 2013
Book Signing in Los Angeles

My weekend in Los Angeles was rewarding beyond my expectations!  I was invited by my late husband's cousins to witness the re-dedication of the family's stained class window at the FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES.  The image of the family's ancestor, Daisy Moss, is imprinted on the window.  The church is 100 years old and boasts 8,000 members.

Fellowship at the church's community center followed the dedication during which time there was a book signing by three family members who were authors.  (I was one of the three.)  My two books, ST. BENEDICT THE MOOR, A LEGACY REVISITED and INSTITUTIONAL RACISM AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, were well received.  I was previously advised to bring 6 of each books.  All twelve were sold.  After I sold out, two people paid me on the spot to mail them copies of each book.  Other interested people showed disappointment for my not having the books available, but they did not pursue my mailing books to them. 

Book signing & worship service attendees

The other two authors and their books are:

Richard D. Gordon: The calling of Richard Allen, Founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Reverend Richard Allen was originally a member of the predominately white St. George Methodist Episcopal Church in a town near Philadelphia.  Richard Allen and a Reverend Absalom Jones objected to African American worshipers being assigned only balcony seating.  During one service, Reverend Jones entered the main floor seating area and proceeded to the altar where he knelt down and began praying.  An attempt was made by a white parishioner or usher to pull Rev. Jones from his knees while he ordered Rev. Jones to leave the area.  Rev. Jones' promise to leave the area when he finished praying was not accepted.  He was pulled from his knees and ushered out.  Rev. Allen and Rev. Jones and the rest of the "colored" members left St. George Church never to return.

Karin  L. Stanford, Ph.D. is an Associate Dean in the College of Humanities at California State University Northridge. I had an even exchange of my books with two of the three books she brought for display: African Americans in Los Angeles by Arcadia Publishing and Breaking the Silence, Inspirational Stories of Black Cancer Survivors, Hilton Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois.  Noted African American poet Nikki Giovanni, wrote the Introduction.  Other books by Karen include, Beyond the Boundaries and Black Political Organizations in the Post Civil Rights Era.


                                     right to left, Dolores, Richard, and Karin

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