Sisters of St. Joseph named ‘Women in American History’

St. Benedict The Moor School, St. Augustine, Fla.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) recently recognized the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, for the orders historic role educating African Americans and combating racism at the turn of the 20th century Florida.

According to the St. Augustine Record, DAR designed the Catholic order “Women in American History,” to recognize their efforts.

More than a century ago, three sisters from the order were arrested for the crime of being white while teaching black students at St. Benedict the Moor School in St. Augustine, Fla. Passed in 1913, the “Sheats Law,” named after the state’s first elected superintendent of public instruction, prohibited whites from educating black students. A conviction could result in fines up to $500 (nearly $13,000 in 2018 dollar values) or imprisonment for up to six months.

The Sisters of St. Joseph fought against the law by continuing to educate black students, in violation of the statute. After the arrest of the three Catholic sisters in 1916, the Diocese fought the law in court and won.

RedefinED chronicled the Sisters of St. Joseph as part of the Know Your History series here.

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