June 12th is Loving Day. The day marks an important milestone in American civil rights history when the U.S Supreme Court’s decision in the Loving V. Virginia case invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
The fact that loving couples couldn’t legally get married in more than half the states in America before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision really hits home on a personal level because my great-great paternal grandparents were one such couple.
As a child, I was always told that my paternal great grandmother was this beautiful woman with long black hair and high cheekbones. Everyone assumed she was half Cherokee. And when asked about my own heritage, I always boasted that I was part Native American. During one such conversation with one of my students, who is 1/8 Porch I learned that I was woefully misinformed.
“Whenever people boast about being Cherokee, I laugh,” he said. “They are the go-to Native tribe when more than likely their ancestor was probably passing. In the 1800s, there were only 25,000 Cherokee spread out from Tennessee to Oklahoma. On the other hand, two million people of pure African ancestry and thousands more of mixed blood were living in practically all territories. So the odds of having African blood running through your veins is much higher than Native American.”
After taking my new education to heart, I went to our family’s self-proclaimed historian, my aunt Joretta and asked her to do some research. Glad I did because we discovered my great grandmother was not part Native American. Her father wasn’t a chief or brave warrior, but a white farmer from Monroe County Alabama.
Armed with this information, I was shocked and somewhat ashamed because I immediately assumed my great-great grandmother was more than likely a slave. Nope. With a little more digging and talking to people she learned my great-great grandmother was actually his common law wife and mother to his eight children. And according to the U.S. Census, my great-great grandfather, a dirt poor farmer and descended from lamb herders in England, never married.
As a romantic, I would like to believe my great-great grandfather never married because in his heart he believed he already was – to my great-great grandmother. And like them, I’m sure there are thousands if not millions of couples who defied the law for love.
Do you have a Loving couple in your family tree? If you leave a comment below, I’m randomly choosing one winner to receive their choice of any book from my back list AND a free ARC of m upcoming IR romance Taken.
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