10 February 2012

Attitudes towards Interracial marriage have changed dramatically, in just the last generation. In the United States it was just 43 years ago when interracial marriage was made fully legal in all 50 states. Today, in many countries, interracial marriage is commonplace and most don’t even give it a second thought. However, as we all know, it wasn’t always this way in the past. This list includes individuals who didn’t let the prejudice of society make their decisions in life, and also paved the way for interracial couples in the future.
Note: Interracial marriage can convey a relationship between a Black and an Asian, a White and an Asian, a Hispanic and an Asian, a White and a Hispanic, etc. In this particular list I have included only black and white relationships.
Frederick Douglass and Helen Pitts
Married in 1884
Interesting Fact: During Fredrick Douglass’s first marriage he had a 26 year affair with German feminist Ottilie Assing. In 1884, when she read in the newspapers that Douglass was to marry Helen Pitts, who was 20 years-younger, she committed suicide in a public park in Paris. The letters Douglass wrote to her were burned, and she left all her money to Douglass.
Pearl Bailey and Louie Bellson
Married in 1952
Interesting Fact: Bailey served as a United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador under several Republican Presidential Administrations. Even after the majority of African-Americans moved from The Republican Party to The Democratic Party in 1964, Pearl Bailey remained with The Republican Party because The Republican Party was where she and Louis Bellson found the greatest acceptance for their interracial marriage.
Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham
Married in 1961
Interesting Fact: Following Ann Dunham’s memorial service at the University of Hawaii, Obama and his half sister Maya spread their mother’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean at Lanai Lookout on the south side of Oahu. Obama scattered the ashes of his grandmother (Madelyn Dunham) who died November 2, 2008, in the same spot weeks after his election to the presidency.

Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt
Married in 1960
Interesting Fact: Before Davis met Britt, he had a relationship with actress Kim Novak. A contract by the mob was allegedly put out on Davis’s life. Frank Sinatra intervened but Davis still feared for his life and married a black showgirl. The marriage only lasted a few months and was later annulled. Some consider Novak the love of Davis’life. Before he died of throat cancer, Davis’s third wife, Altovise, allowed Novak to visit. She and Sammy spent hours talking and reminiscing just weeks before he died, in 1990.
Betty & Barney Hill
Married in 1960
Interesting Fact: Some psychiatrists suggested later that the supposed abduction was a hallucination brought on by the stress of being an interracial couple in early 60s. Betty discounted this suggestion, saying that her relationship with Barney was happy, and their interracial marriage caused no notable problems with their friends or family. Barney died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1969, and Betty died of cancer in 2004. Many of Betty Hill’s notes, tapes and other items have been placed in a permanent collection at the library of the University of New Hampshire, her alma mater.
Joseph Philippe Laroche and Juliette Lafargue
Married in 1908
Interesting fact: When Juliette returned to Paris with her daughters she gave birth to a son, Joseph Lemercier Laroche. The White Star Line, the company that owned the Titanic, was later forced to issue a public apology for the derogatory statements made by the crew. When Louise Laroche died on January 28, 1998, at the age of 87 it left only seven remaining survivors of the Titanic.
Sir Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams
Married in 1948
Interesting Fact: Botswana was among the world’s poorest countries but during Seretse Khama’s tenure as president, Botswana had the fastest growing economy in the world. Khama instituted strong measures against corruption and reinvested money into infrastructure, health and education. In 2009, Seretse and Ruth’s fist son, Ian, won a landslide victory and became the fourth President of Botswana. Their younger son, Tshekedi , was elected as a parliamentarian.
George Schuyler & Josephine Cogdell
Married in 1928
Interesting Fact: In 1967, their daughter, Philippa, had begun a career as a news journalist and traveled to Vietnam as a war correspondent. While attempting to rescue schoolchildren from a war zone, the helicopter crashed into the sea. She initially survived the crash but her inability to swim caused her to drown. She died at the age of 35. Film rights to her biography have been sold and it has been reported that she is to become the subject of a movie starring Alicia Keys. The above photo shows Phillipa, Josephine, and George Schuyler playing dominoes, around 1945.
Jack Johnson and Wives
Married in 1911,1912 & 1925
Interesting Fact: At Johnson’s funeral, Johnson’s third wife Irene Pineau was asked by a reporter what she had loved about her husband. “I loved him because of his courage, he faced the world unafraid. There wasn’t anybody or anything he feared.” The photo above shows Johnson with his first wife, Etta Terry Duryea. Jack Johnson had no children.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Jessie Walmisley
Married in 1899
Interesting Fact: It emerged that the publishers of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast had paid Coleridge-Taylor just 15 guineas (£15.75) for the composition, which earned the company a fortune. Their refusal to grant the widow a fair royalty resulted in the formation of the Performing Rights Society, which has exacted fair dues for composers in Britain ever since.
Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter
Married in 1958 This is at the number one spot because this couple’s marriage overturned state laws in the United States that prohibited interracial marriages. Richard and Mildred were from Virginia and met when he was 17 years old and she was 11. As they grew older, their friendship blossomed into romance. When Mildred was 18 she became pregnant so the couple decided to travel to Washington, D.C. to be married. Five weeks after their wedding, they were awakened at 2 a.m. by police and arrested for being married to one another. In 1959, they pleaded guilty to the charge against them and were sentenced to one year in jail. The sentence was suspended on the condition that the Lovings leave Virginia and not return for 25 years. The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C., and faced housing discrimination, compounded by deep unhappiness about not living close to their families. Mildred wrote a letter to Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy then forwarded the letter to the American Civil Liberties Union. After many setbacks throughout a nine-year period, their case was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1967, The Supreme Court decided unanimously in their favor. Richard later said “For the first time, I could put my arm around Mildred and publicly call her my wife.” In 1975, Richard Loving died at age 41, when a drunken driver struck the couple’s car. Mildred Loving lost her right eye in the same accident. Mildred died of pneumonia in 2008, at the age of 68. The couple had three children, eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Interesting Fact: An annual celebration called Loving Day is held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision. Many organizations sponsor annual parties across the country, with Lovingday.org providing courtroom history of anti-miscegenation laws, as well as offering testimonials and resources for interracial couples
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the small collection of couples that influenced this nation that stands for freedom, yet in quite a few stumbles...We're making progress toward Greatness, indeed...quite the journey!

    I appreciated the fact you also shared couples from around the world as well in great light.

    I would've loved to see a bit more diversity such as Arabs and Asians with Americans as well.

    May your work multiply greatness in the hearts of many!

    Carol C

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