Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Two Tales of Interracial Couples in the 1950s

Loving is a film about the outlawed marriage between a black woman and a white man in 1958 Virginia. It will open on November 4, but that story is one that journalist Soledad O'Brien has known since childhood. She knows the story because her Afro-Cuban mother and Irish-Australian father endured much of the same hostility.

Soledad's parents, both immigrants, met at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in 1958 and married in 1959. Interracial marriage was illegal in Maryland then, so the couple was married in Washington, D.C. As in the film, it was a time when an interracial couple couldn't get served in restaurants together and people were very intentionally trying to keep interracial couples apart.

In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, Soledad tells about her parents story.

"My older sisters were born in Maryland, which, like Virginia, was under an anti-miscegenation law, and my mom told me people would spit on them as they walked down the street. Even when my family moved to New York, where I was born, it was hard to get housing. But my parents never talked about that while we grew up. They didn't want that to frame how we thought about our community. They were quiet activists but felt they were on the right side of history."

Soledad says that she is hoping to watch Loving with her dad but that her parents (who will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary in December) live more in today than in the past.


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