Virginia Interracial Few Reflects on 50th Anniversary

Virginia Interracial Few Reflects on 50th Anniversary

Whenever Ted, that is white, and Julia, who is African United states, very first met in 1969, mixed-race couples often would not marry

By Lisa Vernon Sparks • Published on 1, 2020 at 9:00 am february

It is not often a couple can celebrate a golden anniversary, usually marked after five decades of wedding.

Previously this Ted and Julia Sethman joined the ranks of those who have — and renewed their vows first made in 1970 month.

“We never did such a thing for our anniversary,“ 75-year-old Julia Sethman said, though she and hubby Ted, also 75, constantly would talk about doing one thing.


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“My husband would offer me a card, but we never ever did a cruise, or dinner or absolutely nothing,” she said.

Their union was a unusual event — the Sethmans are an interracial few. After five decades, the couple reflected on marriage plus some of this adversity they encountered during their very early years.

Ted, who’s white, and Julia, that is African United states, first met in 1969 at a mutual friend’s wedding and quickly connected.

Following a courtship that is short they received a license from the Hampton Circuit Court and married at Zion Baptist Church on County Street about six months later on.

At the time, interracial couples often failed to wed.

In Virginia in 1970, there were 244 interracial marriages away from 52,120 general unions with at least one white partner, based on information provided by Peter C. Hunt, a data analyst utilizing the Virginia Department of Health’s office of data administration. Data gathered is from sources believed to be accurate and reliable at that true point of time, Hunt said.

Only because current as autumn 2019 did Virginia state stop listing race on marriage licenses, stated Linda Batchelor, Hampton’s clerk of the circuit court.

Had it been 5 years prior to 1970, the few may not need been allowed to marry at all.


The 1924 racial purity act, which was still in effect during the mid-1960s, did not allow interracial marriage in Virginia under state code. Comparable legislation prohibiting interracial relations were regarding the publications in Virginia dating back to towards the century that is 17th history scholar Cassandra Newby-Alexander said.

That changed in 1967, when Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black colored girl, challenged the state law that made their marriage illegal. Their situation went to the U.S. Supreme Court, because of the top court ruling unanimously that it was unconstitutional beneath the 14th Amendment.

Provided the right period of time, into the waning days of strict Jim Crow regulations, with desegregation ebbing into general public education, there nevertheless was proof of discrimination somewhere else in your community. Buckroe Beach ended up being still mostly divided, with Bay Shore resort still an option for blacks. Blacks only lived in a few communities. The amusement that is local had been segregated.

The Sethmans, who raised three kiddies, said they endured numerous uncomfortable stares and encountered a couple of unsettling incidents.

“We form of got along with each other even though that at the full time, there is, you realize, colored restrooms and white bathrooms and bus channels . ” Julia Sethman said.

But the couple shrugged it well, having received a complete large amount of support from friends.

“Well, we simply kept right on going. We can’t stop individuals from considering you, and even having their opinions,“ Julia Sethman said. „But they never bought their viewpoints out verbally and talked them to us. Never.”


Ted Sethman, a native of Kent, Ohio, was raised in a community that is small graduated from highschool in 1964.

Sethman, raised Catholic, stated he visited a school that was mostly white, but their moms and dads did know some families that are black.

“There was just one black colored individual in my (graduating) class,” he said.

The excitement regarding the Air Force beckoned Sethman. He eventually wound up at Langley in Hampton, where he became an E-4 airplane and specialist mechanic.

Julia Miles Wilson, that is a Hampton indigenous and Baptist, stated she became a mother at 16, quickly married because of this and would not complete senior high school.

With Fort Monroe, then an energetic military post, into the vicinity and throngs of males and women serving, Julia Sethman said white persons to her experience had been generally basic.

“We always got along side white individuals and always communicated using them,” Julia Sethman said. “We were always raised to get along side everybody.”

By enough time she met Ted, Julia Sethman possessed a son that is 7-year-old James, and was estranged from her son’s daddy.

A close friend of hers had been marrying a friend of Ted’s, she stated.

Regarding the of their wedding, Julia Miles Wilson stood at the altar and watched as friends of the groom entered the chapel night.



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