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Browse the profiles of influential couples around the world or visualize some of their stories through an infographic. On July 11,newlyweds Richard and Mildred Loving were asleep in bed when three armed police officers burst into the room. The couple were hauled from their house and thrown into jail, where Mildred remained for several days, all for the crime of getting married. At that time, 24 states across the country had laws strictly prohibiting marriage between people of different races.

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June 12th marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

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More than fifty years later, it seems absurd to most of us that such laws ever existed in the first place. In June, many Americans marked Loving Day —an annual gathering to fight racial prejudice through a celebration of multiracial community. The event takes its name from the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Many decried it as judicial overreach and resisted its implementation for decades. The case that brought down interracial marriage bans in 16 states centered on the aptly named Richard and Mildred Loving.

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Inthe pair were arrested in the middle of the night in their Virginia home after marrying the month before in Washington, D. The Lovings chose exile over prison and moved to D. Kennedy, who in turn referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Alabamabut years of legal code. A chart depicting American approval and disapproval of interracial marriage from to Inonly 3 percent of newlyweds were interracial couples. Today, 17 percent of newlyweds and 10 percent of all married couples differ from one another in race or ethnicity. Inin contrast, 91 percent of Americans believe interracial marriage to be a good or at least benign thing. Today, few would publicly admit to opposing interracial marriage. In fact, most Americans now claim to celebrate the precepts behind Loving and the case has become an icon of equality and of prejudice transcended.

Accordingly, individuals across the political spectrum, from gay rights activists to opponents of Affirmative Action who call for colorblindness, cite it to support their political agendas. And 50 years on, many of their effects remain. The first recorded interracial marriage in American history was the celebrated marriage of the daughter of a Powhatan chief and an English tobacco planter in Matoaka, better known as Pocahontas, did not wed Captain John Smith as the Disney version of her life implies.

Instead, she married John Rolfe as a condition of release after being held captive by English settlers for more than a year. She died in England soon thereafter and the peace brokered with the marriage collapsed. The first laws proscribing interracial relationships, however, did not pertain to Native-English unions but to ones colonial leaders feared would upend the social order because they could promote alliances between indentured servants and slaves. InMaryland sought to stanch potential interracial marriages by threatening enslavement for white women who married black men.

Virginia then outlawed interracial marriage entirely in White men had sexual access to all women and exclusive access to white women.

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Interracial sex, so long as it remained out-of-wedlock and occurred between white men and black women, merited little legal or social consequence. Americans would be classified not according to the degree of mixture they contained but by the total absence or presence of blackness. An political cartoon referencing the widely rumored relationship between President Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings. The first laws prohibiting interracial marriages occurred when wealthy planters were transitioning from using European indentured servants as their primary labor to African slaves.

As these two labor pools worked alongside one another and even married one another, planters feared that poor whites and African slaves would overthrow the far smaller planter class. Interracial marriage bans, therefore, arose to build racial barriers that would supplant alliances among the laborers by creating binary of black and white, slave and free.

Forty-one states in all eventually enacted bans. This abolitionist drawing from the s suggests the plight of the enslaved children of white masters, depicting a nearly-white slave and her mother pleading not to be sold. Northern colonies and later states also enacted bans on interracial marriage, although some repealed these as they gradually abolished slavery.

Nevertheless, white fears of mixed marriages remained a potent political force, particularly in the North. Most white northerners showed themselves firmly opposed to any suggestion of black equality through their rejection of interracial marriage or even the mere hint of its occurrence. Not coincidently, public hysteria against interracial marriage grew louder in the s when the rights of black people were being contentiously debated and a more vocal and inclusive abolitionist movement emerged.

Defenders of slavery accused abolitionists of coveting interracial marriages, despite the undeniable evidence of interracial offspring on Southern plantations resulting from slave owners forcing themselves on slave women. A double-sided painting from New England c, Virginia Luxuries features a bust-length portrait on one side and the above image on the reverse. The double-side nature of the painting serves two purposes: as a commentary that behind the respectable exterior of white Virginia gentlemen lies perverse desires and as a means for the owner of the painting to hide its controversial side from unreceptive viewers.

A mob attacked a mixed-race gathering of the American Anti-Slavery Society and continued to menace, burn, and destroy the homes and churches of leading abolitionists. A similar riot, with similar instigation and targets of violence, occurred in Philadelphia in As the targeted violence against abolitionists and black institutions illustrates, by the s, interracial marriage had become a proxy for white anxieties that the social order they had built upon racial distinction might be endangered.

3 things you gotta do to make interracial relationships work long term

Just days after its grand opening ina mob burned Pennsylvania Hall—a building constructed as a forum to discuss abolition and other social movements—after rumors spread that an interracial marriage had been performed there. Many of the anti-abolitionist riots that took place in the s were provoked by rumors of interracial marriages. Little else could more effectively raise a mob or garner as much wrath; anti-abolitionists used this to great effect.

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Part of E. Even William Lloyd Garrison, one of the most radical abolitionists, never advocated actual interracial marriages even as he fought for the repeal of marriage bans. Such marriages among abolitionists were also exceedingly rare. One of the few known interracial marriages between abolitionists—William King and Marry Allen —resulted in their fleeing the country in fear for their lives. Abolitionist and publisher William Lloyd Garrison spoke out about the injustice of interracial marriage bans left.

Abolitionist and writer David Walker called for black unity against racial injustice in second from left. Most African Americans too were ambivalent toward marrying interracially. Even where interracial relationships were legal, derogatory depictions—like E. In rare cases though, interracial couples inside and outside of legal wedlock existed and sometimes even thrived in pockets of the North where local communities paid far less concern than one might expect.

Even if community tolerance existed, however, the children of interracial couples unable to legally wed were defined as bastards—a branding that carried real consequences in the 18 th and 19 th centuries as it foreclosed the possibility of inheritance—meaning white property remained in white hands.

The final image of E. For the enslaved population, however, no such consensual interracial relationship could exist.

What makes interracial couples different?

Even the rare and seemingly loving unions that functioned like marriages between masters and slaves could not—by definition—be consensual. Most interracial sex under slavery, however, did not even have a veneer of loving attachments and was instead the blatant rape of black women by white men. As part of the justification for the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford case, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney used the existence of interracial marriage bans as evidence that the Founding Fathers never intended Black Americans to be citizens.

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An political cartoon depicting a ludicrous version of the of racial equality as allegedly proposed by the Republican Party. The issue even arose in the legendary debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Stanton Foundation. The Ohio State University. Department of History. Home Topics Africa. Middle East.

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North America. International Relations Religion Education Sports. Search form Search. Connecting History. Hot off the Press. History Talk. Interracial Marriage in "Post-Racial" America. Founding Myth, Foundational Rejection The first recorded interracial marriage in American history was the celebrated marriage of the daughter of a Powhatan chief and an English tobacco planter in To discuss and comment on this article, please visit our Facebook.

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