“My Daughter Married a Negro”: Interracial Relationships in the United States as Portrayed in Popular Media, 1950-1975

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-08-06 04:03Z by Steven

“My Daughter Married a Negro”: Interracial Relationships in the United States as Portrayed in Popular Media, 1950-1975

Journal of Undergraduate Research
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Volume VIII (2005)
13 pages

Melissa Magnuson-Cannady

Between 1948 and 1967, thirty states either repealed their anti-miscegenation laws or the states’ laws themselves were struck down as unconstitutional by the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision. Although these laws were slowly being annulled, interracial relationships, especially Black-White relationships, were still considered taboo in much of the country. This research project critically examines how mainstream America thought about interracial relationships during and after those years as portrayed in popular culture media outlets such as popular magazines and periodicals, newspapers, and one major film. The articles and productions reveal both continuity and change over time and that many of those articles and productions were reactions to national events and court cases. After examining various articles it becomes clear that as more states repealed laws banning interracial relationships, more people accepted interracial relationships as long as interracial couples did not move into their neighborhoods, or involve their children. Currently, while there is an ever-increasing population of people involved in interracial relationships, this fact is not widely depicted in advertisements, on television, or in movies, revealing vestiges of an out-dated taboo.


The author of “My Daughter Married a Negro” chose not to reveal his identity when he wrote this story detailing his family’s ordeal with their daughter marrying across the color line.1 But his story reveals that he and the rest of his family and their friends and neighbors did indeed have issues with the marriage. In fact, with the many references to the Second World War and to war in general, it seems as though he feels that he is fighting a war against the interracial union. This article was one of many articles published between 1950 and 1975 that portrayed both a reluctance to allow such relationships and a slow eventual acceptance of interracial relationships. Even the fact that he chose to remain anonymous and hide the fact that his daughter was marrying a black man from his co-workers speaks volumes about the general thoughts and notions about interracial marriages during the early 1950s. In fact, at the time this article was published and for years after, antimiscegenation laws were still widely practiced and enforced in the majority of the states in the South and the West of the United States. These laws were used to prohibit racial mixing, or amalgamation so to ensure the superiority and purity of the white race, to maintain the hierarchy of slave or free during the centuries of slavery, and to regulate property transmission. Such antimiscegenation laws predated the United States of America and continued to regulate relationships, race, and property transmission for a long time—less than forty years ago many states still had laws that banned the marriage of a white person to a person of any other race. Many of these laws were in place for decades, or even centuries, while other states had more recently passed their laws during the twentieth century…

Racial equality leading to mixed marriages and then to children of mixed racial descent was one of the driving forces behind preventing school integration. The September 19, 1958 issue of U.S. News & World Report published as its cover story “What South Really Fears about Mixed Schools: Leading Sociologists Discuss Sex Fears and Integration.” This article, along with the “Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood” article blatantly reveal the South’s real fear about integration. The sociologists’ views varied greatly. One stated, “…about the last person in the world that the average white kid would really seriously get interested in would be a Negro.” Another stated that although school integration may not directly lead to intermarriage, it will definitely lower the barriers to such relationships.51 Another leading sociologist argued that interracial relationships and sex are used to oppose integration, but that it “may not be the real reason but merely one that is easily understood and useful for the opposition. He then argued that the real reasons may have to do with social and political mobility of Negroes—that better educated Negroes would rock the world of politics in the South and that would eventually lead to whites loosing status and privilege in society. Still another sociologist, when answering the question, “Do you think that white parents are afraid their daughters may become interested in Negro boys, or their sons might become involved with Negro girls?” responded with,

Their sons have clandestinely been involved with Negro girls and women for over 200 years, and the evidence can be seen in the form of light mulattoes in almost every Southern and Northern City.

Public opinion accepts this fact, however, as not endangering the purity of the white race so long as the mixing does not involve the incorporation of the mixed-blood children in the father’s group. Of course, legal marriage with colored women would violate this principle, and this is why it is forbidden by law in every Southern State and in many non-Southern States.

With the daughters of white parents, it is a very different matter. Motherhood is concealed only with great difficulty. An old saying of the frontier has it that motherhood is a matter of fact but fatherhood is a matter of opinion. Hence it is through the woman that the white group lays down its rules of race membership.

This statement, very similar in many ways to Peggy Pascoe’s explanation of interracial relationships, shows why interracial marriage, but not interracial sex, is banned by law in many states, and how race and sex compound to further subjugate black women of the South. This statement reveals the sick truth that while white male slave owners had supreme control over his slaves, and later sharecroppers, and women in general in the South, black men had almost no power—not even to protect their female family and friends from the possible horrors of the white man. And, while not all of the relationships resulting in mixed children were based on this imbalance of power that resulted in rape, many surely were purely by the definition of rape itself. This statement reveals the ugly, horrible truth about one aspect of race relations in the South…

Read the entire article here.

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