Friday, 27 January 2012

Love Prevails: Photographs of a Heroic Couple Who Fought Anti-Miscegenation Laws in the US

I've discussed Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes with six book clubs now, and one thing that cmes up every time is the astonishment that marriage between people of African and European descent were forbidden in several US states until the 1960s.

The archaic rules have little to do with the novel which occurs during the 18th century, but everything to do with the world in which Hill wrote it. The child of an African American and a woman of Scandanavian ancestry, Hill grew up in a Toronto suburb because his parents didn't want to raise their children in the racially charged society that was the US in the 1950s where they had to look for a jurisdiction in which their own marriage could take place.

The anti-miscegenation laws were not struck down until 1967 by the US Supreme Court after a long fight by a another inter-racial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving of Virginia. (That's a photo of them with their children.) Their heroic, but quite ordinary story, is told in a series of photographs taken in the 1960s which now are on display at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

Some things have gotten better...

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