50 years of licit cohabition

I want to share two articles published for Loving Day.  Not just any Loving Day, but the 50th Anniversary of the legalization of interracial marriage nationwide Loving Day. Yay!  A lot has changed in 50 years.  And so much has not.  I think these two articles together embody that sentiment perfectly.  Sometimes it takes more than one thing 🙂

crystal bellieve in love

The NPR post has actual audio (short and worth hearing) from the Loving v. Virginia trial and gives more details about the arguments in the case than I’ve ever encountered.  The New York Times Opinion Editorial shares short stories from current day interracial couples.  Find excerpts from both below.  Please click the links for full articles.

While “Illicit Cohabitation” is a great pull into the NPR mixed-media piece, the line from the trial that I find most fascinating is the one about psychological evils. The pro anti-miscegenation law argument that “these statutes serve a legitimate, legislative objective of preventing sociological, psychological evils which attend interracial marriages” really got my attention.  I wish I could say the statement is entirely unfounded.  But that is not true.  The statement is true, as is what he said next:  “Intermarried families are subjected to much greater pressures and problems than those of the intra-married and that the state’s prohibition of interracial marriage for this reason stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry.”  Ok, he totally lost me with polygamous and incestuous and statutory, but what came before that?  That is as true today as it was 50 years ago. And with everything that’s going on around here these days, there is no denying that.  That’s just the way it is right now.  What I hope we will all do is realize it wasn’t the marriages that needed banning, it was the society who’s psychology told it that there was a hierarchy to maintain and a gulf so wide as to never fathom crossing it.  And I hope we will see where the vestiges of those beliefs and laws still live in us and in our communities and that we will speak up for what is right and just and true. There is a lot of unraveling to be done. It shouldn’t have been so hard.

society is gross

 

It shouldn’t be so hard still.  The New York Times gathered stories that are current and honest.  I’ll be honest and admit that I only read the black and white couples because, while I’m being honest, Anti-miscegenation laws were primarily put in place to prohibit black people from marrying white people.  In order to preserve the master race.  And to prevent tragic offspring like me from upsetting the system with our all-encompassing, theory-disproving, potentially-unifying selves by just, you know, existing. But, I digress-

I think this can all be summed up with this quote from Jennifer, a white woman married to black man since 2001:  “I have learned that not only is “driving while black” a real thing, but also that riding with a black male will get you pulled over. I’ve learned to ignore disapproving looks from older white people in public places…I’ve learned that most people are tolerant, but that is different from being accepting. While we may have come a long way from the days of the Lovings, there is still a long way to go.”

To all the interracial couples before the Lovings and after the Lovings,

Thank you for your courage in the name of love while facing intense discrimination, judgement, adversity, and alienation.  Important steps toward waking us up out of the illusion of race.

thank you crystals

 

‘Illicit Cohabitation’: Listen To 6 Stunning Moments From Loving V. Virginia

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“Illicit cohabitation.”

“Psychological evils.”

“Racial integrity.”

It’s difficult to imagine how much the country’s language around race and interracial marriage has changed in the past half century.

But just 50 years ago, interracial marriage was prohibited in Virginia and 15 other states.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Loving v. Virginia declared unconstitutional a Virginia law prohibiting mixed-race marriage. The ruling also legalized interracial marriage in every state.

Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, two young ACLU lawyers at the time, took the case of the Lovings — a black and Native American woman named Mildred and Richard Loving, her white husband — all the way to the high court.

Listen to six standout moments from the trial below, transcribed by the Supreme Court in 1967:

1. Cohen and Hirschkop asked the court to look closely at whether the Virginia law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. If the framers had intended to exclude anti-miscegenation status in the 14th Amendment, which assures equal protection under the law, they argued that it would have been easy for them to write a phrase excluding interracial marriage, but they didn’t Cohen argued:

“Equal protection for Negroes”

“The language was broad, the language was sweeping. The language meant to include equal protection for Negroes that was at the very heart of it and that equal protection included the right to marry as any other human being had the right to marry subject to only the same limitations.”

 

Loving, 50 Years Later

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws restricting interracial marriage. Recently, we asked readers to share their experiences about being in a mixed-race relationship. We received more than 2,000 stories in just a few days.

Many people expressed profound ambivalence about the categories that drove antimiscegenation rules, while they described how their racial identity — or how others identified them — continued to shape their relationships and their social interactions. Some wrote about the resistance they faced from family and society, while others celebrated the particular richness of their lives. Here are some of those stories.

BARB AND MATT ROOSE

Married: Medina, Ohio, July 18, 1992

‘Luckily we were young, bullheaded and foolish.’

BARB: I’m African-American and my husband is Caucasian. We married when we were 19 and 20 years old and we’ll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year. We love that we get to celebrate such a milestone as the Supreme Court verdict celebrates a milestone too.

After we got engaged (which was mainly because I was pregnant) my then-boyfriend was asked by one of his family members: “Do you really love her or are you just trying to tick your parents off?”

We learned quickly that we couldn’t answer all of the questions that our families had. Luckily we were young, bullheaded and foolish, so we decided not to let other people’s issues with our marriage become our own. We had to focus on us. This meant that my husband had to sacrifice some of his relationships for a short season in order to marry me. Thankfully, they have since reconciled.

We made it a priority to make sure that our kids had friends of all races. Early on in our lives, we hung out with another biracial couple that looked like us, so that our kids saw black moms and white dads as normal.

As a couple, we learned to be upfront with each other about race. It didn’t start that way. Attraction led to confusion. Our life experience and cultural filters created a need for us to learn each other’s ways. Like, letting him, when he was my boyfriend, into my dorm room while I was relaxing my hair. I had to let him see me being fully me. Another time when my father-in-law and I went to a country music concert with his favorite artist — that was culture shock! But, it was the music of my husband’s experience and it helped me learn more about the people in my family.

It’s taken a long time to learn this, but we believe that our relationship is more important than one of us being right. We don’t want race to ever become a wall that divides us.

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oh happy (loving) day

I love surprising intersections of the things I love the most.  Such as Volkswagen and Loving Day.  I’m not sure if I am more passionate about any other subjects.  That may be an exaggeration, but anyway I am super into VW as well as the progression of our society toward a more loving, open way of living.  Without Loving v. Virginia it is likely that there would be no me nor so many others. This is inspiring and undeniable progress for which I am grateful.

b:w beetles

That being said, you can imagine my delight when the Volkswagen ad below hit the circuit just in time for Loving Day- commemoration of the day that the Supreme Court declared interracial marriage to be legal nation wide with their verdict in the Loving vs. Virginia case.  48 years ago.  That was basically yesterday folks.  And though we’ve come a long-ass way in the last 48 years, we still have a long-ass way to go before we’re free from the fears and limitations and separations of race.  And our addiction to perceived otherness.  Can you imagine how lovely things might be if we defaulted to perceived sameness? Le sigh ❤

So here’s the Volkswagen commercial and here’s to normalizing blackness on the road to normalizing togetherness. Baby steps.

VOLKSWAGEN USES HUMOROUS AD FEATURING YOUNG INTERRACIAL COUPLE TO MARKET ITS CARS

By 

What we regularly see depicted in the media is often what we subconsciously regard as being normal. It’s hard to deny the influence that television and movies has had on impacting the way that people of color are viewed by society. As inconsequential as it seemed when the popular television series 24 featured a black man as the president, this depiction did undoubtedly condition a segment of the public to the idea that it was not inconceivable that a black man could be the President of the United States.

Although inter-racial dating is widespread, television continues to shy away from featuring this reality. That’s why it’s interesting to see Volkswagens choosing to promote this ad. We will be watching to see if other major advertisers follow suit. As any step to normalize how black families are depicted is a welcomed development.

Richard & MIldred in checked skirt and top Loving

loving-kids

color-pic

Mildred and Richard Loving

(also pictured: their children Donald, Peggy, and Sidney.)

what Loving and loving are all about

I don’t feel quite right about focusing more on Cheerios than on the Lovings yesterday.  Perhaps I did it because this is the 4th Loving Day that I’ve had this blog so felt that I’d covered that already. Or, perhaps I did it because I knew I had this one in store for today.  This article, written by the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis (Ph.D/black woman married to a white man/woman of color and of God who stands for equal rights for all re:gay marriage) for the Huffington Post Religion blog, is all about liberty and justice for all.  On a good day I’m all about liberty and justice for all!  That there’s a place called “Middle Church” makes my heart swell.  I want to go to there.  I love knowing that Reverend Lewis exists.  I find inspiration in that knowing.  I love knowing what Mildred Loving thought and how she felt about life and love and equality, and am inspired by that too.

Let’s encourage one another to stop saying no to love.  Let’s encourage love in whatever form it arises.  Let us love that.

P.S. I also love that Willy Wonka meme, yet I have no idea what Mr. Wonka has to do with this, if anything.  That was my own find on the world wide web, not part of the Reverend’s article. Just for the record.

P.P.S. It is nearly impossible to be depressed and inspired at the same time, so let us also encourage one another to be inspired.  Or, even better, start living an inspired life yourself and watch the inspiration and the health of your community grow.

Making Love Legal

Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church

Posted: 06/07/2013

Central Point, Virginia. 1958: Richard and Mildred Loving jailed. Their crime: marriage. He was white. She was black. “We were married on the second day of June. And the police came after us the fourteenth day of July,” Mildred Loving said in the documentary “The Loving Story” (HBO, 2011).

An anonymous tip sent police to their house in the middle of the night. Making love was a crime, too, for people of different races. The police found them sleeping. They were arrested for “cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” Their marriage was illegal in 24 states in 1958.

Richard and Mildred pled guilty, and received a one-year prison sentence, which would be suspended if they left Virginia. They moved to Washington, D.C., sneaking home to see family and friends. Mildred wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy who referred her to the A.C.L.U. Richard told their lawyer, “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Love was not enough to mitigate the racial fear and hatred that resisted their union. It was not enough to unravel the complicated narrative of white supremacy that led to segregation, to Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws.

In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision held that the prohibition of biracial marriage was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren and the other justices claimed that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival … Under our constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

No matter what society asserts about race, no matter what religious institutions teach about race and no matter the ethnicity of the couple, marriage is a basic civil right.

The Supreme Court changed the narrative, changed the story. And it changed the culture. According to Pew Research study of married couples (February 2012), the share of interracial couples reached an all-time high of 8.4 percent. In 1980, that share was just 3.2 percent.

The narrative of homophobia in our nation is also complicated and tragic. The culture has shaped it, religious institutions have often reinforced it, and fear feeds it. I believe that no matter what the culture asserts, adults have the civil right to marry, no matter their sexual orientation.

gay marriage is illegal so was interracial wonka

And I believe this is also true: Wherever love is, God is. The writer of 1 John says, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.” I think it is important for congregations that teach “God is love” to also affirm the marriage of same-gender loving couples. They should have the civil right to marry and their love should be blessed in our churches.

On Sunday, June 9 at 6 p.m., at Middle Church, my white husband and I will celebrate Loving Day (celebrated nationally on June 12) and the landmark case that gave us the right to marry and live with each other. We will celebrate in hope that the Supreme Court will once again change the story, that it will rule on Prop 8 and DOMA in such a way that all couples have the right to marry in every state in our union.

Original gospel music by Broadway and television actor Tituss Burgess will be performed and there will be a renewal of vows for straight and gay couples. Burgess (Jersey BoysThe Little MermaidGuys and Dolls and 30 Rock), Alyson Palmer (of BETTY, whose music has been heard on The L-WordUgly Betty and Weeds), and Broadway’s Jenny Powers (Grease and Little Women) will solo at the event. Middle Church stands for the freedom of all couples to legally marry. During the commitment ceremony, all couples — no matter their ethnicity, or their gender or sexuality — can renew or make new vows to each other. We will celebrate loving, because we know for sure that love heals. Come and bring someone special with you!

Commenting on the similarities between interracial and same-sex marriage in 2007, Mildred Loving said,

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry … I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That is what Loving and loving are all about.

Amen, and may it be so.

loving

…and then

It happens to be Loving Day which is what prompted me to finally get around to posting about the Cheerios.  Happy Loving Day! Interracial Marriage (black/white) has been legal for a grand total of….46 years!  That’s only ten more years than I have existed!  So in the grand scheme, if there is still a small to medium segment of the population who simply has not taken advantage of any opportunity to grow out of this debilitating mindset, well, that’s only to be expected… and it’s too bad for them… and absolutely ok with me actually.  Love people where they are, right?

4-up on 6-12-13 at 7.32 PM #5 (compiled)

4-up on 6-12-13 at 7.26 PM #5 (compiled)

Here’s a nice article that brings together the Cheerios and the Lovings.

Opinion: The importance of ‘Loving’ in the face of racism

Editor’s note: June 12 is the 46th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia,  which made interracial marriage legal in the United States.  Thousands of people nationwide celebrate that anniversary as “Loving Day’.  Ken Tanabe is the founder and president of Loving Day, an international, annual celebration that aims to build multicultural community and fight racial prejudice through education. He is a speaker on multiracial identity, community organizing and social change through design. 

By Ken Tanabe, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Racism is alive and well in 2013, and what’s striking is the recent notable examples aimed at interracial couples – or one of their children.

Even breakfast cereal commercials aren’t safe. A recent Cheerios ad depicting an interracial couple and their multiracial child got so many racist remarks on YouTube that the company had to disable the comments.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about the commercial, except that the parents happen to be an interracial couple.

But the truth is, racially blended families are becoming more ordinary every day, due to the 1967 Supreme Court decision that declared all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. 

Opinion: Two different marriage bans, both wrong.

Today is the 46th anniversary of that decision, and one in seven new marriages in the United States is interracial or interethnic.  Multiracial Americans are the fastest-growing youth demographic.

Number of interracial couples in U.S. reaches all-time high:

While the negative comments about the Cheerios commercial made it newsworthy, there were also many others who showed their support for the Cheerios brand.

Multiracial Americans of Southern California, a multiethnic community group, started a Facebook album for people to post photos of themselves holding a box of Cheerios. And in articles and in social media, supporters expressed gratitude to General Mills for depicting a multiracial family.

The weddings of two multiracial couples from high-profile families also prompted racist comments online. Lindsay Marie Boehner, daughter of House Speaker John Boehner, married Dominic Lakhan, a black Jamaican man. And Jack McCain, son of Sen. John McCain, married Renee Swift, a woman of color.

The reaction to these marriages is reminiscent of the response to the marriage of Peggy Rusk – the daughter of then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk – and Guy Smith, a black man. In 1967, interracial marriage was a cover story, several months after laws against interracial marriage were struck down.

Things have changed since then, but not enough.

In a 2011 Gallup poll, 86% of Americans approved of “marriage between blacks and whites.”  In 1958, the approval rating was 4%. But it makes me wonder: What do the other 14% of Americans think? Apparently, many of them spend a lot of time leaving comments online.

The election of Barack Obama inspired many of us to hope that widespread racism was a relic of the past.

And while he was elected to a second term, we must not be complacent when it comes to racism in our daily lives. We must seek out opportunities to educate others about the history of our civil rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wished that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  I wonder what he would think of our collective progress as the 50th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech approaches.

On June 15th, the 10th annual Loving Day Flagship Celebration in New York City will draw an expected 1,500 guests. And while many participants are multiracial, anyone can host a Loving Day Celebration for friends and family, and make it a part of their annual traditions.

We need to work collectively to fight prejudice through education and build a strong sense of multiethnic community. If we do, one day we might live in a nation where the racial identities of politicians’ children’s spouses are no longer national news, and cereal commercials are more about cereal than race.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ken Tanabe.

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Mildred and Richard Loving

Peggy, Sidney, and Donald Loving playing, April, 1965

 Peggy, Sidney, and Donald Loving playing April 1965

no h8

This is so right on!  Thank you, Karen Finney.  I’m so glad my (white)grandparents allowed me in to their lives.  And so are they! It’s the “little” things…

On another note, this sentence, “the very existence of antimiscegenation laws had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of white supremacy,” speaks to the very reason I fell down this rabbit hole I’ll now call the mulatto trail.  I realized one day that anti-miscegenation and the one-drop rule perpetuate the idea of white supremacy, and that by subscribing to that antiquated rule I was upholding that ridiculous notion.  The anti-miscegenation thing has legally been eradicated, but ask any interracial couple who has walked down a street together, and I’m sure they’ll tell you that on more than one occasion they’ve been given the evil-eye or gawked as if they were freaks of nature.  Or both.  And as for the one-drop rule, head on over to my youtube channel, scroll through the comments, and you’ll see that it looms large in the consciousness.  And many people don’t seem to be willing to let it go.

California Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ruling a Win For American Values

By KAREN FINNEY

SOURCE

Yesterday’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional reaffirms a long-held American value that no matter how you try to spin it, separate is not equal. While some may not agree with same-sex marriage, history should remind us that our Constitution calls us to recognize that the laws in it apply equally, not to be picked apart to support a political agenda or bias. The arguments being used against same sex marriage are frighteningly similar and equally offensive as those once used against interracial marriage. While a Gallup poll in 1967 found that 74 percent of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage, it’s almost hard to remember just how far we’ve come.

I was 16 years old before I was allowed in my grandfather’s home in Greensboro, North Carolina. That’s how long it took for him to even begin to re-think his shame over having a mixed-race granddaughter. He believed, as did many at the time, miscegenation was wrong on moral and legal grounds. Thankfully for me, my parents disagreed. They were married in New York City and had me despite the fact that it was illegal in their home states of Virginia and North Carolina to do so. Thankfully for our country, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court saw beyond the fear and bigotry of the moment and ruled that antimiscegenation laws violated fundamental American values of Due Process and Equal Protection Under the Law as guaranteed to every American by our constitution.

Just as some used to say that marriage is only valid between a white man and white woman, some now argue that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Arguments have also been made that same-sex marriage dilutes the institution of marriage, just as similar arguments suggested that interracial marriage diluted the white race. My personal favorite absurd justification says that (despite the idea that we are all God’s children and loved equally) gay marriage is against the laws of God and nature. That argument was used by Leon M. Bazile, the judge in the initial case against the Lovings, who said:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Loving case also recognized that the very existence of antimiscegenation laws had been enacted for the purpose of perpetuating the idea of white supremacy:

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

Similarly, as Judge Vaughn Walker today affirmed, denying gay couples the right to marry, not only denies basic civil rights, liberty, and freedom, but also codifies bigotry.

Karen FinneyKaren Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients in the areas of political and communications strategy. She brings over 16 years of experience in national politics and campaigns ranging from the Clinton administration to New York State to the Democratic National Committee.

a rare testament of harmony

This is a fascinating story of interracial marriage, institutional racism, blended families, and mixed race ideology.  I am inspired by the courage of conviction this woman maintained in the face of so much opposition.  Oh! And… um…. excuse me South Carolina… 1998!?!?  Yes, Michigan!

How one woman overcame the racial barriers that divide us

By DAVID LAUDERDALE

Laura Markovich came to Beaufort County in 1965 because it had one of the few places in the South where whites and blacks could gather.

She came from Michigan to attend a religious “summer school” of her Bahá’í World Faith at Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

What unfolded here became a rare testament of harmony in the messy struggle of race relations in America.

At the secluded Penn Center, on sandy soil where the first school for freed slaves was erected in 1862, the young white widow met a tall and striking black widower.

On the surface, the only thing they had in common were children underfoot. Laura had four children, all white, and Elting B. Smalls Sr. of St. Helena had six children, all black.

Three years later, they were married. They lived in the Tom Fripp community on St. Helena and together had four more children.

Laura and Elting Smalls, center, on St. Helena Island with two of her daughters, one of their sons, and two family friends.

It was a life so odd for that era in the Deep South that it demanded hard-to-reach courage, resolve and unity.

Those characteristics — and Laura Smalls’ devotion to her faith, early childhood education and family — were cited Tuesday when a standing-room-only crowd gathered back at that same Penn Center for her funeral. She died Feb. 27 at age 79.

Her children composed a eulogy that makes it sound like they were raised in the world of Ozzie and Harriet:

“Her greatest loves were arts and crafts, playing and teaching children, talking to everyone and anyone, and dancing. You can see this evidenced through her children’s passions….Can’t you yet see her sweet smile?”

‘WEDDED WIFE’

That smile was a triumph of the spirit over harrowing details.

To set the stage, their marriage took place days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and America’s streets erupted into racial violence. King himself had gathered his troops for retreats at the Penn Center for the same reason the Bahá’ís did. They believed in unity, and this was one place they could find it. Just months before he died, King stood at Penn Center to ring home a point to the antsy civil rights activists: “So I say to you tonight that I have taken a vow. I, Martin Luther King, take thee, nonviolence, to be my wedded wife.”

For Elting Smalls to take Laura Markovich to be his wedded wife was not much easier.

Her faith required written permission from her father, and he didn’t want to give it. It took her three years to get it. Her father never did agree to meet Smalls, a Penn School graduate and career civil service worker at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

And then there was the matter of the law. In June 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state laws, like South Carolina’s, that banned interracial marriage. But it took South Carolina until 1998 to officially amend the state Constitution to remove what had been ruled a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Smalls wedding was a quiet affair in the home of one of the bride’s closest friends — in Michigan.

Thus a family of whites from up North and a family of black Sea Island Gullahs became one. They lived united, years before integration was forced on the local schools, much less accepted in the home.

BLACK AND PROUD

Sometimes Laura Smalls would take her troupe of white, black and mixed-race children into the historically white waiting room at the doctor’s office, and sometimes into the historically black waiting room, and always let the odd stares fall where they may.

Family members say the white community in town had a stand-offish attitude, but the blacks of St. Helena welcomed them all, as family.

“She didn’t do it to make a statement,” said daughter Lynn Markovich Bryant of Lady’s Island. “She fell in love with Elting and she wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way.”

Bryant gives the world a look at race it rarely sees in her 2002 autobiography, ” ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud,’ Wished the White Girl.”

As a child she was stunned by the ingrained racism she saw in her little classmates. She struggled with white attitudes toward blacks because in her world, there was no racial divide. She chose to attend the predominately black St. Helena Elementary School, where she felt welcomed as a fifth-grader. Today, she has taught there for almost 30 years after finishing second in her class at Beaufort High School, earning a full scholarship to Clemson University, graduating with honors and earning a master’s degree with a 4.0 grade point average.

She sounds like a black person, and she married a black man, joking that she would have had to marry a white for it to have been considered an interracial marriage. Her husband, Wilbert Bryant, teaches at Battery Creek High School.

One day as an adolescent, Lynn Bryant blurted out, “Mama, I hate white people.”

In her book, Bryant writes: “Being a mother to such a multitude of children, this was hardly her first or last problematic situation to resolve. … She ever so warmly and calmly responded as only she could, ‘Well, Lynn don’t you love the Bahá’ís? There are white Bahá’ís.”

EMBRACED

…Smalls was embraced on St. Helena because she was not a white who ignored the natives or said, “My way is better than your way — move over.”

She saw racial progress, her daughter said, but not the level of social interaction that’s necessary for people of different races, cultures and beliefs to quit being so judgmental.

“She taught us that we have more commonality than differences,” Bryant said.

Together, Laura Smalls’ 13 surviving children and stepchildren of all colors wrote: “Our mother did not tell us how to sacrifice and serve others; instead she showed us how to walk the walk.”

SOURCE

white top

White Top Folk Festival by Jason Riedy.

Text of the sign: “The White Top Folk Festival was held annually from 1931 to 1939 (except 1937) on Whitetop Mountain — the second highest peak in Virginia. Annabel Morris Buchanan, John Powell, and John A. Blakemore organized the event that featured banjo players, fiddlers, string bands, and ballad singers, as well as storytelling, clog dancing, morris and sword dancing, and theatrical presentations. Thousands of people attended the festival each year, including nationally known academic folklorists, art critics, composers, and in 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The festival was cancelled in 1940 because of heavy rains and floods and never returned.

A First Lady in a False Kingdom: A Curious

Convergence on White Top Mountain

CHRISTA SMITH ANDERSON

From 1932 to 1939, the Whitetop Folk Festival attracted people from far and wide to the small mountain community. In 1933, even First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stopped by to celebrate.

It was August 12, and the tenure of America’s longest-running first lady was in its infancy. Franklin Roosevelt had been in office just over five months. The FBI was still called the Bureau of Investigation, and its director, J. Edgar Hoover, hadn’t started compiling what would become his largest secret file — the 3,271 pages on Eleanor Roosevelt’s activities, many of them anti-segregation and, thus, “subversive.” The Ku Klux Klan didn’t know Eleanor Roosevelt well enough yet to have a price on her head. Another six years would pass before her infamous resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) over that organization’s refusal to allow African-American contralto Marian Anderson to perform in Constitution Hall.

…One of the festival’s organizers, John Powell, proudly asserted that “the great proof of the importance and the significance of the great musical heritage of our people is in the fact that Mrs. Roosevelt should come.”

Like many a memorable character, John Powell, who was also a founder of the Anglo- Saxon Clubs of America, is both compelling and repelling. A classical composer and pianist from Richmond, Virginia, Powell studied in Vienna with Theodor Leschetizky, in Prague with Karl Navrátil. He made his debut in Berlin in 1907, when he was twenty-five years old; the performance was hailed by critics as one of the most successful the city had ever known.

In the first part of his career, Powell incorporated all forms of American music — notably, African-American music — into compositions like Sonata Virginianesque and Rhapsodie Nègre. But by the 1930s, when he was selecting and shaping the White Top Folk Festival musicians, he was committed to promoting what he considered “Anglo-Saxon” music: a pure, white music from a pure, white region of America, whose music was dangerously at risk of becoming defined by a black American baby called Jazz.

By excluding black musicians, probably of some Anglo heritage themselves, Powell and other festival organizers brought to the mountaintop the pernicious bias that would become Powell’s legacy.

In 1924, Powell was instrumental in a court case that prevented the marriage of Dorothy Johns and James Connor by proving that one of Johns’s ancestors was black, thus she could not legally marry Connor, who was white. Some thirty-four years later, Powell was also instrumental — by virtue of his efforts in the 1920s — in making sure that interracial newly-weds Mildred and Richard Loving didn’t get a full night’s sleep. A few weeks after they were married, the Lovings were awakened around two a.m. by flashing police lights and escorted from their bed so they could be booked into the Caroline County, Virginia, jail. Each was charged with a felony.

The Dorothy Johns case was the first test of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, the Lovings’ the last. The “one-drop” law made interracial marriage a felony in Virginia and was especially targeted at whites marrying blacks, blacks being defined, of course, as anyone with “one drop” of black blood. Powell worked with other racial eugenicists to get the law passed in 1924, and was the self-proclaimed originator of it. By 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Racial Integrity Act in Loving v. Virginia, there were similar laws in fifteen other states as far north as Delaware, and as far west as Oklahoma.

For Eleanor Roosevelt, this 1933 trip to Southwest Virginia was a sentimental journey. Her father, Elliott, lived out the Panic of 1893 — the Great Depression’s predecessor — in the Southwestern Virginia town of Abingdon, close to the Tennessee and North Carolina borders.

At the festival, Eleanor warmly addressed the crowd of some ten thousand attendees: “To the people who live here I want to say a special word of gratitude. They have given me the feeling that they remember affectionately my father, whom I adore.”  And then she ended her speech, “For the rest of the day I hope to be just a spectator.”

Hundreds of performers took the stage for the festival that year. Among the prizewinners was Jack Reedy from Marion, Virginia. He won first prize in banjo; tied for first in clog dancing; and performing with the Blevins Brothers in the band competition, tied for first.


Eleanor Roosevelt posed with White Top Folk Festival contestants Frank Blevins (fiddle), Jack Reedy (banjo), Edd Blevins (guitar), and six-year-old mandolin sensation, Muriel Dockery, in 1933.
Library of Virginia

Mrs. Roosevelt may very well have heard some of the same songs her father did. But didn’t she, or any of those reporters who’d read about the “quartette of negroes” singing to him in the 1890s, think it curious that in the 1930s, not a one of the singers, instrumentalists, dancers, or storytellers at this folk-music festival with a five-state view was black? Did they not find the complexion of this kingdom to be unusually fair?  I’d like to think the White Top Mountain Folk Music Festival was the fool-me-once in Eleanor’s evolution as a Civil Rights activist.  Eleanor never publicly criticized the White Top Mountain Folk Music Festival organizers for their exclusion of black performers. But her reaction to some of the people who did perform hints at the cost of Powell’s agenda on the music he was trying to elevate. In her “Passing Thoughts of Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt” column in the Women’s Democratic News, Eleanor wrote of the women ballad singers she saw and heard on White Top: “[They were] fine featured … showing in their carriage and expression that there is something in inheritance.” As for the music, “Their voices were not remarkable but the whole thing was of great interest to those who believe that there is value in preserving the folk lore which has come out of the early customs and experiences of the people of the country.”

For whatever Powell might have thought of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, it’s quite certain that his opinion would’ve changed drastically by the 1950s, when racists flat-out hated her, some of them wondering why on earth a white person would talk so much about civil rights, others coming to the conclusion that Mrs. Roosevelt must have some black ancestry. Eleanor was downright snide about the whole eugenics thing. In her “My Day” newspaper column, she wrote about receiving an “amusing postcard” from someone in Mobile, Alabama, who wrote: “Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
You have not answered my questions, the amount of Negro blood you have in your veins, if any.”

To which she responded: “I am afraid none of us know how much or what kind of blood we have in our veins, since chemically it is all the same. And most of us cannot trace our ancestry more than a few generations.” She went on, “As far as I know, I have no Negro blood, but, of course, I do have some Southern blood in my veins, for my Grandmother Roosevelt came from Georgia.”

As for John Powell, he was too “refined” to wear a white sheet. His cloak was musical brilliance, and that brilliance was about as flooded out as the last-planned White Top Mountain Folk Music Festival. (The 1940 festival was rained out, and organizers never brought it back.)

But for all the record-industry packaging that would corral white into “hillbilly” and black into “blues,” making country music today seem the province of white folk, when it comes down to it, American country music got its start as a Virginia-born, biracial baby. Biracial unless, of course, you were to follow Powell’s one-drop definition — in which case it’s black music, just like Powell’s own early compositions, just like every song played on White Top Mountain with that African instrument, the banjo.

SOURCE

resignation

I thought this news would make me feel better about the situation.  Somehow I’m angrier than before.  First of all, the man doesn’t use proper English.  This bothers me to no end.  But even worse he feels that he is the victim here, being punished for having a conscience.  I’m sure he’s just beside himself with regret and worry for all of the confused half-breeds that he can no longer save from…. from…. what!? UGH! The insanity!

Louisiana justice who refused interracial marriage resigns

November 3, 2009

(CNN) — A Louisiana justice of the peace who drew criticism for refusing to marry an interracial couple has resigned, the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.

Keith Bardwell resigned in person at the Louisiana secretary of state’s office, said spokesman Jacques Berry. The state Supreme Court will appoint an interim justice of the peace to fill Bardwell’s position, Berry said, and a special election will be held next year to fill the position permanently.

Keith Bardwell has said he was concerned about children of mixed-race married couples.

Bardwell- resigned because, “They was going to take me to court.”

Bardwell, a justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s 8th Ward, refused to perform a marriage ceremony for Beth Humphrey, 30, and her boyfriend Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, Louisiana, and sign their marriage license. The two were married by another justice of the peace.

The couple filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Bardwell and his wife, Beth Bardwell, on October 20, claiming the two violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Bardwell, speaking to CNN affiliate WBRZ, said he was advised “that I needed to step down because they was going to take me to court, and I was going to lose.”

“I would probably do the same thing again,” he said. “I found out I can’t be a justice of the peace and have a conscience.”

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-Louisiana, who had called for Bardwell’s dismissal, said Tuesday night that “Bardwell has finally consented to the will of the vast majority of Louisiana citizens and nearly every governmental official in Louisiana. Bardwell’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to interracial couples was out of step with our Louisiana values and reflected terribly on our state. We are better off without him in public service.”

Initial reports were that Bardwell refused to issue a marriage license to the couple, but in the lawsuit Humphrey and McKay say they obtained the license from the parish court clerk’s office and contacted Bardwell to see if he would perform the ceremony and sign the license to legally validate the marriage.

Humphrey wound up speaking by telephone with Beth Bardwell, the lawsuit said, and Beth Bardwell asked Humphrey if they were a “mixed couple.” When told they were an interracial couple, Beth Bardwell said, according to the lawsuit, “We don’t do interracial weddings,” and told her the two would have to go outside the parish to marry.

interracial coupleHumphrey and McKay

Bardwell did not return repeated phone calls from CNN in October, but told CNN affiliate WAFB that he had no regrets about the decision. “It’s kind of hard to apologize for something that you really and truly feel down in your heart you haven’t done wrong,” he said.

In addition, he told the Hammond Daily Star in an October story that he did not marry the couple because he was concerned for the children that might be born of the relationship and that, in his experience, most interracial marriages don’t last.

“I’m not a racist,” he said. “I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.”

marriage license refused

I guess it’s not really a big deal seeing as he’s let a black person use his bathroom and all.  Of course I do not mean that at all and I am appalled by this.  Especially because his reason is to prevent the creation of miserable people like me.  Good God!  I think when this man sees and interracial couple he sees (in his mind) something like this:

white woman black horse

rather than this:

2100800164_a84aecde84

No Marriage License for Interracial Couple

By MARY FOSTER, AP

HAMMOND, La. (Oct. 15) – A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.

Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.

“That was one thing that made this so unbelievable,” she said. “It’s not something you expect in this day and age.”

…”It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 “that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.”

The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending “the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice.”

“He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,” Schwartzmann said.

…”I’ve been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don’t think I’ve mistreated anybody,” Bardwell said. “I’ve made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it.”

ought to give iowa a try

“dubuque, de moines, davenport, marshalltown, mason city, keokuk, ames, clearlake…”  if you didn’t do the music man in high school that might not mean anything to you, but this op-ed is worth reading anyway. in my opinion.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/opinion/09thrasher.html?_r=1

 

New York Times

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Iowa’s Family Values

Published: April 8, 2009
IF it weren’t for Iowa, my family may never have existed, and this gay, biracial New Yorker might never have been born.

In 1958, when my mother, who was white, and father, who was black, wanted to get married in Nebraska, it was illegal for them to wed. So they decided to go next door to Iowa, a state that was progressive enough to allow interracial marriage. My mom’s brother tried to have the Nebraska state police bar her from leaving the state so she couldn’t marry my dad, which was only the latest legal indignity she had endured. She had been arrested on my parents’ first date, accused of prostitution. (The conventional thought of the time being: Why else would a white woman be seen with a black man?)

On their wedding day, somehow, my parents made it out of Nebraska without getting arrested again, and were wed in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 1, 1958. This was five years before Nebraska would strike down its laws against interracial marriage, and almost a decade before the Supreme Court would outlaw miscegenation laws throughout the country in Loving v. Virginia.

When the good state of Iowa conferred the dignity of civic recognition on my parents’ relationship — a relationship some members of their own families thought was deviant and immoral, that the civil authorities of Nebraska had tried to destroy, and that even some of my mom’s college-educated friends believed would produce children striped like zebras — our family began. And by the time my father died, their interracial marriage was seen just as a marriage, and an admirable 45-year one at that.

That I almost cried last week upon reading that the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state law banning same-sex marriage will therefore come as no surprise. I’m still struck by one thought: over the years, I’ve met so many gay émigrés who felt it was unsafe to be gay in so-called flyover country and fled for the East and West coasts. But as a gay man, I can’t marry in “liberal” New York, where I’m a resident, or in “liberal” California, where I was born, and very soon I will have that right in “conservative” Iowa.

Of course, the desire to define relational rights and responsibilities with a partner, to have access to the protection that this kind of commitment affords, is rather conservative. But it’s a conservative dream that should be offered to all Americans. Though it takes great courage for gays to marry in a handful of states now, one hopes that someday, throughout the nation, gay marriages, like my parents’ union, will just be seen as marriages.

It’s safe to say that neither the dramas of our family, nor its triumphs, could have been possible without the simultaneously radical and conservative occasion of my parents’ civil marriage in Iowa. And so when the time comes, I hope to be married at the City Hall in Council Bluffs, in the state that not only supports my civil rights now, but which supported my parents’ so many years ago.

Steven W. Thrasher is a writer and media producer.

seaprop8