1. During the 19th and 20th centuries, a total of 30 states had some form of law banning relationships between races. Why do you think so many U.S. states passed laws against miscegenation?
2. How does the Richardson family pose a challenge to the social customs and thinking about race in the New Southern Confederacy?
3. What might be some reasons why people do not accept mixed-race marriages?
4. Do you feel that the law can regulate a person’s sexual and romantic preferences? Why or why not?
5. Tracy Bard said that the community’s response to the Richardson’s was a matter of upholding Southern cultural values, not racism. Do you agree with this statement?
Additional Tips for Educators: As a racially diverse country founded by immigrants and one that incorporated slave labor into its economy for more than two centuries, the U.S. has a long history of grappling with issues of racism. While slavery ended after the American Civil War, Southern states enacted Jim Crow laws that imposed separation between whites and blacks in the South and limited the economic and political power of African Americans. Jim Crow laws institutionalized segregation, which normalized the provision of inferior treatment, services, and public facilities for African Americans. Some states also passed miscegenation laws, which forbade sexual relationships between races, and have been referred to as the “ultimate segregation laws” by some historians. Miscegenation laws were not limited to Southern states alone, or to the era immediately following the Civil War; Hollywood studios were even prohibited from producing and showing any films with mixed-race sexual relationships.
The civil rights movement was largely responsible for helping end institutionalized segregation in the United States. Organizations like the NAACP helped organize successful legal challenges to segregation, while activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X led grassroots efforts to combat racism and discrimination. Miscegenation bans were finally overturned in the 1967 civil rights case of Loving vs. Virginia, and the last miscegenation law in the U.S. was overturned in Alabama in 2000.
While interracial marriages were increasing into the first decade of the 21st century, this trend started to reverse dramatically after the election of 2016, in which the U.S. government scaled back its prosecution of civil rights and hate crime violations. Once the Coalition of Confederate States formed in 2036, many Southern states banded together to take steps to make interracial marriage illegal once again.
Create a public photo exhibit devoted to “love across borders.”
The notion of “borders” can refer to cultural taboos or legal restrictions that have prevented people from making decisions about their sexuality as well as their reproductive and intimate lives.
Recalling the types of relationships that have been forbidden by laws over time, such as gay marriage, interracial relationships, gather photos (or photocopies) of individuals that are the children of such unions, or images of interracial and same sex couples. These can be people you know, or famous people that you know of.
Display these images, along with a short written statement describing your feelings about how they have overcome (or were constrained by) social borders.
Cut the images and mount them on plain or colorful paper or another surface that will serve as a frame, such as on cardboard, plywood, or posterboard.
If you find several images that inspire you, you may want to consider using them together as a collage.
What you’ll need:
Photos of diverse couples or individuals
Posterboard, cardboard, plywood, or mounting paper (to frame your photos)
Glue, tape, staples, hammer, nails, etc. (for mounting)
Find a public place, a bulletin board, a fence, or a wall, and post your photos and statement together as an exhibition.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and strangers alike to share your art. Ask if you can borrow space in their offices, stores, or garden. Talk to institutions like public libraries, community centers, or local businesses to see if they will allow you to exhibit your work in their spaces. If possible, see if you can organize a collective exhibit with friends—that will make for a larger and more diverse exhibition.
Wherever you end up displaying your work, reach out to people via text, email, Facebook, or Twitter, and tell them to spread the word.
Photograph your exhibit and a close up of your statement and share it with friends by uploading it to the America2049 Facebook page.