I teach social sciences, most of my students are 10th graders. We have discussed the ificance of the U. What are major ideas that should be covered? Laws prohibiting miscegenation in the United States date back as early as and were common in many states until That year, the Supreme Court ruled on the issue in Loving v.
In this article, we look at the history of miscegenation in the United States, some motivations for anti-miscegenation policy, the landmark decision of Loving v. Virginiaand some applications of the topic for the social studies classroom. The first recorded interracial marriage in North American history took place between John Rolfe and Pocahontas in In colonial Jamestown, the first biracial Americans were the children of white-black, white-Indian, and black-Indian unions.
The idea that Africans and their descendants were not only different from, but inferior to the English was prevalent in the days of Shakespeare and consequently migrated to America with the first colonialists. Similarly, Joel Kovel contends in White Racism: A Psychohistory that sexuality is at the core of racism and, subsequently, miscegenation laws. On the other hand, Oliver Cox asserts in his Caste, Class, and Race that economic exploitation, rather than a loathing of interracial sex, was the real basis for miscegenation prohibitions.
Cox further argues that miscegenation laws also refused blacks the opportunity to attain the cultural status of whites.
White colonists also were fearful of an alliance between African Americans and American Indians and the strength in s that such a union of oppressed peoples could produce. Whatever the motivation for miscegenation policy, in Virginia passed legislation prohibiting interracial marriage and later passed a law that prohibited ministers from marrying racially mixed couples. The fine was ten thousand pounds of tobacco. Then, inVirginia required that any white woman who bore a mulatto child pay a fine or face indentured servitude for five years for herself and thirty years for her .
Anti-miscegenation laws in the united states
As the of colonies grew, miscegenation laws became increasingly commonplace; by the time of the American Civil War, at least five states had enacted anti-miscegenation laws. During slavery there were, of course, frequent mixed race births, many resulting from the rape of enslaved black women by white slave owners. Between andthe mulatto slave population increased by 67 percent; in contrast, the black slave population increased by only 20 percent. This is the idea that someone with even one distant African ancestor is black.
The belief guaranteed that the children from these forced unions would remain slaves. In Booker T. Washington summed up the practice when he remarked:. It is a fact that, if a person is known to have one percent of African blood in his veins, he ceases to be a white man.
The ninety-nine percent of Caucasian blood does not weigh by the side of the one percent of African blood. The white blood counts for nothing. The person is a Negro every time.
Theodore Roosevelt, for example, repeatedly expressed his belief that the Irish were of an inferior race, that Asians should not be allowed to enter the U. Although modern U. During the s there was a rekindling of racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, whose membership grew dramatically. Intolerance was also manifested in other ways. As late as the s, almost half of the states had miscegenation laws.
While the original statutes were directed wholly against black-white unions, the legislation had extended to unions between whites and Mongolians, Malayans, Mulattos, and Native Americans. During the s, the civil rights movement helped reverse many of the legal barriers against miscegenation.
The Warren Court, through its decision in Brown v.
Board of Educationwas actively striving to end discrimination against blacks. So when the case of McLaughlin v. Florida appeared on the docket inthe Court was again ready to deal with the question of racial classification. In McLaughlinthe Court ruled as invalid a Florida statute that allowed more severe penalties for cohabitation and adultery by interracial couples than same-race pairs.
McLaughlin v. Florida was instrumental in paving the way for the case of Loving v.
Commonwealth of Virginia. In that year, sixteen states still had laws that made interracial marriages illegal. Since interracial marriage was illegal in their home state of Virginia, the couple was married in Washington, D. When they returned to Virginia, the newlyweds were arrested and put in jail for breaking the law. Before dawn one morning, police officers barged into their bedroom, shined a flashlight on them, and demanded to know what the couple was doing.
Loving pointed to their framed marriage certificate on the wall, but the officers informed them that the D. At the trial, the Virginia judge gave the Lovings a choice: they could spend one year in jail or move to another state. In his opinion, the judge 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 couple grudgingly moved to nearby Washington, D.
Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Court found the laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.
While the Loving decision fought racism in the legal arena, there is much more to be done in the social arena. As teachers retell the history of the United States, it is important to include discussion of racism, intolerance, and continued prejudice. Because contemporary youth culture seems to blur the lines between racial classifications, students will undoubtedly find relevance in more recent applications of miscegenation policies in communities throughout the United States.
The following case studies will facilitate classroom discussion and more in-depth examination of the issues associated with miscegenation laws and practices. The Suggestions for Further Reading, below, can also provide more detailed information and exploration of the topic.
After the decision gained national attention and protest, the church backed down and allowed the baby to remain in the family plot. This case study can generate purposeful discussion of views toward interracial marriages, local community mores, and racism in general. High school students will find the case of a high school prom in Alabama to be especially relevant.
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In February the white principal at the seven-hundred-student Randolph County High School called an assembly of seniors and juniors. The junior class president, ReVonda Bowen, whose father is white and mother is black, asked the principal what his order meant for her. Community condemnation was swift. Parents organized demonstrations and called for a boycott of classes. In response, about one-fifth of the high school students did not attend classes for several days.
Although the principal withdrew his threat of canceling the prom, he was suspended with pay by a four-to-two vote from the local school board.
The urban-rural divide in interracial marriage
Eventually, Humphries was reased to the central office and a new white principal and black assistant principal were appointed. The Alabama prom case can be a useful case study to discuss the history of anti-miscegenation sentiment in the United States and how it can still be found in present-day society. The recent census can provide another immediate source for discussion. For the census, the Census Bureau for the first time allowed people to check as many racial as they felt applied.
In an effort to make it easier for citizens to take part in the survey, Census also used its shortest form since The first U. Seventy years later, the government began adding other like Mulatto, Chinese, and American Indian.
Other subject areas
By the Census Bureau had eliminated the terms mulatto, quadroon, and octoroon; it was assumed that three-quarters of all blacks in the United States were racially mixed anyway. Anyone with any African American ancestry would henceforth be counted as black. These classifications had been adopted and in use since Americans using the write-in blank self-identified nearly three hundred races, six hundred American Indian tribes, seventy Hispanic groups, and seventy-five different combinations of multiracial ancestry.
Today there are more people of mixed heritage being born in the U. In one in thirty-three children born was of mixed race.