***1958- Mildred Jeter (Black)&Richard Loving (White) marry in DC (interracial marriage legal) & move to Virginia (illegal)**
1691-Document Written and Published by General Assembly in Virginia (Virginians outlaw interracial marriage) (terrible grammar)
Racial Integrity Laws of the 1920s
The Racial Integrity Laws, which included the Racial Integrity Act (RIA) of 1924, were a series of legislative efforts designed to protect "whiteness" against what many Virginians perceived to be the effects of immigration and race-mixing. Passed in the context of a national surge in nativism, racism, and sexism, these laws explicitly defined how people should be classified—for example, as white, black, or Indian—and then, through Virginia's newly created Bureau of Vital Statistics under the direction of Dr. Walter Plecker, aggressively policed the distinctions. Elite white Virginians, often belonging to the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America (ASCOA), worried that their efforts on behalf of white supremacy might be confused with the more violent work of the Ku Klux Klan. As a result, they used the RIA to recast racial bigotry as progressive, scientific social policy. There was some social and political backlash against the laws, but not enough to overturn them until the U.S. Supreme Court's 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which declared Virginia's ban on interracial marriage to be unconstitutional. Most of Virginia's Indians, meanwhile, had been classified by the RIA as racially black, a designation that continues to be an obstacle for federal tribal recognition.
White Virginians had long been concerned with policing the color line. Virginia outlawed interracial marriage in 1691. In 1705 the colony defined a "mulatto" as "the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro," and in 1785 the commonwealth clarified that definition to apply to "every person who shall have one-fourth part or more of negro blood." After the American Civil War (1861–1865), a new statute defined a "colored person" as anyone having one-fourth or more of "negro blood" and an Indian as any person having one-fourth or more of Indian blood. In the first years of the twentieth century, with the emergence of scientific racism (the use of purportedly scientific methods to justify racial differences and hierarchies) and its attendant policies of segregation and disfranchisement, white Virginians sought to tighten racial definitions. In 1910, the Virginia General Assembly declared that anyone with one-sixteenth or more "black blood" was black. All other people were legally white.
Such quasi-scientific, genealogical measurements characterized many states' efforts to define race, but the Virginia General Assembly also enlisted the power of the state to enforce such racial categories. In 1912, the General Assembly created the Bureau of Vital Statistics to register all births, deaths, and marriages in the state, and all birth certificates had to state the race of the parents. Under the direction of Dr. Walter Plecker, the Bureau of Vital Statistics became an active agent in policing the color line. By the early 1920s, many white Virginians, including Plecker, believed the 1910 law had failed to defend their prerogatives.
Disdaining the Ku Klux Klan's violent white supremacist policies and tactics, elite white Virginians embraced the scientific racism espoused by the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America. Founded in Richmond in September 1922 by internationally renowned pianist John Powell, self-styled ethnologist Earnest Sevier Cox, and Plecker, the ASCOA committed itself to preserving white "racial purity." Powell provided the movement's star power and publicity; Cox's book White America (1923) provided the pseudoscientific, eugenic justifications; and Plecker backed the other two with the state's police power. The ASCOA demanded legislation prohibiting interracial marriage and defining anyone with any non-white heritage—even one drop—as black.
The ASCOA's rhetoric decrying race-mixing angered powerful Virginia families that claimed descent fromPocahontas and John Rolfe. Thus, the ASCOA's racial integrity bill was amended to allow the marriage of whites with anyone having less than one-sixteenth Native American blood—a fraction of "Indian" heritage that preserved these families' whiteness. This became known as the "Pocahontas clause." Legislators passed the amended RIA to wide acclaim and Plecker began zealously enforcing the act.
Plecker believed that Virginia's Indians had thoroughly interbred with African Americans, rendering all "modern" Indians—especially those in Amherst and Rockbridge counties—black. Plecker instructed local registrars to affix a warning label to the birth certificates of people claiming Indian heritage; the label stated that the person was "colored" and provided genealogical information. Plecker also ordered registrars to refuse marriage licenses to anyone with any trace of non-white blood attempting to marry a white person. He personally threatened anyone who questioned the system. Plecker's actions prompted lawsuits from people contesting their racial classification and demanding the right to marry.
The first two lawsuits challenging the RIA resulted in opposite decisions, drawing the law's constitutionality into question. The first case upheld the RIA. In the second case, however, the same judge ruled that since there was no discernable trace of non-white blood in either party, the couple should be allowed to marry.
Rather than appeal the ruling, and risk having the RIA declared unconstitutional, the ASCOA sought to tighten the law's racial classifications. Attempted revisions failed in 1926 and 1928, although a law mandating racial segregation at all public assemblages passed in 1926 with ASCOA support. Many whites believed that these measures, combined with Plecker's rigorous policing, unnecessarily inflamed racial tensions. Nevertheless, a threat to segregated public schooling precipitated further legislation.
Since the RIA did not amend the 1910 act defining people with more than one-sixteenth black "blood" as black, individuals with less than one-sixteenth black blood slipped through a legal loophole. According to the RIA, these people were not white enough to marry white people; yet according to the 1910 law they were not black. Therefore, by law, these "colored" people had to attend white schools.
To defend white privilege, the General Assembly passed another racial integrity law in 1930. Under this statute, people with one-quarter Indian blood and less than one-sixteenth black blood were classified as Indians—but only if they lived on a reservation, segregated from whites. Anyone else with even "one drop" of non-white blood was henceforth black—unless exempted by the RIA's "Pocahontas clause." This meant that the Indians of Amherst and Rockbridge counties became black by law.
Virginia's RIA remained in force until the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia (1967). Virginia's Monacan Indians have continued to battle their 1924 legislative reclassification as non-Indian, seeking tribal recognition from the federal government.
The case of Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Jeter Loving and Richard Perry Loving, were arrested in July 1958 for violating the terms of the Racial Integrity Act. By law, Jeter was classified as "colored" and Loving as "white." Knowing that they would not be able to marry legally in Virginia, the couple left the state in June 1958 to marry in Washington, D.C., where no such prohibition existed. Virginia's Racial Integrity Act, however, included a section that forbade interracial couples who married outside the state to live in Virginia as husband and wife. In October 1958 the Circuit Court of Caroline County issued an indictment stating that they were in violation of state law. On January 6, 1959, Judge Leon Bazile accepted their guilty pleas but suspended their one-year sentences on the condition that they leave Virginia and promise not to return as a couple for twenty-five years. The Lovings opted to leave and moved to Washington, D.C. They were not content to accept the situation, however. In 1963 the Lovings engaged Bernard Cohen, an affiliated attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), to appeal their conviction. Soon Cohen was joined in his appeal by attorney Philip Hirschkopf, who had more experience in constitutional law. Judge Bazile denied the appeal, stating thatAlmighty 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 Lovings' appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia was denied in 1966, setting the stage for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. In that appeal, attorneys Hirshkopf and Cohen were assisted by numerous legal scholars, the national ACLU, and other organizations and law firms. Amicus briefs—statements and information presented on behalf of organizations not directly involved with the case—were filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Japanese-American Citizen's League, and a consortium of Catholic bishops and other sympathetic organizations. Although sixteen states still had laws banning interracial marriage (Maryland repealed its law in response to the Lovings' Supreme Court case), only North Carolina offered a brief on behalf of Virginia. The Lovings' brief, meanwhile, included legal arguments interspersed with references to sociology and anthropology.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the courtroom came when Cohen quoted Richard Loving as saying, "Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia." A unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia's law, stating that to deny the "fundamental freedom" of marriage "on so unsupportable a basis" as race "is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law." Loving v. Virginia established the legal basis for a cultural redefinition of marriage.
(copied from Encyclopedia Virginia)