1950s Interracial Relationships
Hello I'm new to the forum (but decided to skip over the intro post and get straight into the good stuff). I'm writing an outline for a screenplay, which I anticipate a romance blooming between an African-American woman and a white male, and although this is more of a sub-plot for the story I want to try and get as much of a realistic idea of how this kind of interracial relationship would have been reacted to by each of their families, friends and indeed the wider community. And further down the line, the impact this may have had on any children from the relationship.
I'm also aware of anti-miscegenation laws that were in place in the USA around this time, were all states still subject to these laws, if not which ones would have had these laws repealed?
As a bit of background, my aunt and uncle were an interracial couple so I have a bit of knowledge about the reactions they received (and reactions my cousins received) although this was in the late 1970s/early 1980s UK so I imagine it was quite different to the scenario I'm looking at.
I've done quite a bit of research on the subject matter, but would love some first (or second) hand information from people who were alive during the 50s.
Interracial couples in America in the fifties found acceptance difficult, at best and were often ostrasized, shunned and ridiculed. These relationships were viewed as immoral, unethical and in some cases even illegal.
Interracial Relationships in the 50s and Black/White Relationships « Welcome to the Doctor's Office
Anti-miscegenation laws in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Some states never had them. Some repealed them in the 19th century or in the 1940s-1960s. The Supreme Court struck them down in 1967. At that time only southern states had them.
In the NYC draft riots during the Civil War, white women married to black men were lynched, so that did occur then in New York.
Attitudes and laws vairied by region, but it wasn't really accepted where legal.
There where interracial sexual relationships with both gender/race combinations, but those were usually not publically acknowledged. In the south, black men could wind up being lynched if suspected of that sort of thing.
In 1958, Gallup did a poll of attitudes in the U.S. toward interracial marriage (defined as "between white and colored people"). No less than 94% of Americans disapproved of it, with a mere 4% approving. In 2007, 79% approved and 17% disapproved (in that year, interracial marriage was defined as "between blacks and whites"). This is one of, if not the, most spectacular examples of societal mores changing in a relatively short period of time. It also provides an excellent demonstration of the fact that if you are trying to decide whether something is wrong or right, you can't go by societal opinion--you have to make your own decision.
There weren't many interracial marraiges. Most interracial relationships were probably white man / black woman. Some of these relations in the south were reminiscent of slavery times.
There were also white women attracted to black men. The Klan in the 1890s had terrorized black man /white woman couples who were living together. In the 20th century in the south, a black man could be in danger of his life by getting involved with a white woman, but it might also be difficult to say no to a white woman.
If a Black guy had sex with a white woman they would lie in wait and jump the guy and beat him up and tie a rope around his ankle and hoist him up off the ground and strip his clothes off and dowse him in gasoline and then castrate him and then set him on fire.
It wasn't as though anyone actually wanted to do such terrible things. They just wanted to "encourage the opposite" of inter-racial sex.
Don't anyone kid himself. Such incidents occurred both in the north and the south.
But that was back in the 20th century.
First, black/white was more accepted among blacks than whites, although not with the wholesale "anything goes" attitude that might be assumed in either culture. There was some wariness, but also acceptance - the law be damned.
In high school I went with a black girl in northern Indiana, and it was considered no more unusual than any other form of dating and relationship. The moment we went outside of the boarding school, however, such pairings would have been deemed exotic and slightly dangerous - not because of anything inherently cultural within the bonding, but because of the potential for rude teasing and maybe even violence. In the deep rural south, this would not have been something either of us would have attempted openly, for fear of life and limb.
In my small town it would have to have been secret back then too, and even today (I still live there) is very uncommon. Less than 2% of our population are negro, but there has never been much racial tension here, and certainly not in 50 years. Nobody would even notice it today.
Blacks to the back on buses.
Blacks in the balcony at theaters.
Had their own cafeteria where I worked.
Black thrashing hands ate on the back porch, whites in the dining room.
Had their own baseball league with some exception.
Schools were separated.
My great-grandfather married, or at least had a life-spanning relationship and kids with, a white lady during the later 1800's. I don't know the details but they lived in Washington DC. I doubt they ventured to Virginia often :cool:
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