Black Voices At CSB/SJU

For nearly a century, Black students, employees and visitors to the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have been raising their voices, and inspiring white allies to join them.  Their words call our community to live up to our Benedictine values of hospitality, justice, peace, and respect for persons.    This exhibit restores and amplifies those voices as we continue to work toward the common good.

The first two Black students at Saint John’s were Etienne Dupuch, from the Bahamas, and Walter Jones, from Washington D.C. They both came far from home in 1927 and paved the way for a more diverse student body.  Shortly after came Eugene Dupuch, ’34, brother of Etienne. We continue to raise Eugene Dupuch’s voice today, as he was composer of the Johnny Fight Song, joyously sung at athletic events.

Kathleen Yanes and Gertrude Danavall were the first Black students at Saint Benedict’s, arriving from New York in 1938. After some alums objected, Sister Claire Lynch gave voice to support these students saying “our status as a Catholic college will be but improved by an act which is, after all, only outward evidence of our belief in Christian--not to say Catholic--­principles.”  

Today CSB and SJU continue to seek ways to hear and respond to African-American voices, including a commitment to confronting racism.  The actions of predecessors described here give us conscience and courage to build a more inclusive and welcoming community.  

Principal researcher: Kathryn Schug '25
Advisor: Kathleen Parker
Posted: March 2022

For more information about the history of CSB/SJU visit:

College of Saint Benedicts Archives

Saint John's University Archives

Early Voices