Virginia Interracial Few Reflects on 50th Anniversary

Virginia Interracial Few Reflects on 50th Anniversary

When Ted, that is white, and Julia, who’s African American, first met in 1969, mixed-race couples often failed to marry

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

It is not often a couple can commemorate an anniversary that is golden usually marked after five years of wedding.

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

“We never did anything for our anniversary,” 75-year-old Julia Sethman said, though she and hubby Ted, also 75, always would speak about doing one thing.


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

Their union had been a rare event — the Sethmans can be an interracial couple. The couple reflected on marriage and some of the adversity they faced during their early years after five decades.

Ted, that is white, and Julia, that is African American, first met in 1969 at a shared friend’s wedding and quickly linked.

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

During the time, interracial partners often failed to wed.

In Virginia in 1970, there were 244 interracial marriages out of 52,120 overall unions with at least one white partner, in accordance with data provided by Peter C. Hunt, a information analyst because of the Virginia Department of Health’s workplace of data management. Data gathered is from sources believed to be accurate and reliable at that true point of the time, Hunt stated.

Only because current as autumn 2019 did Virginia state stop race that is listing marriage licenses, said Linda Batchelor, Hampton’s clerk regarding the circuit court.

Had it been 5 years ahead of 1970, the couple might not need been permitted to marry at all.


Under state code, the 1924 racial purity work, that has been still in effect throughout the mid-1960s, would not enable interracial marriage in Virginia. Comparable rules prohibiting interracial relations are in the publications in Virginia dating back to towards the seventeenth century, history scholar Cassandra Newby-Alexander stated.

That changed in 1967, when Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black girl, challenged the state legislation that made their marriage illegal. Their case visited the U.S. Supreme Court, with all the court that is top unanimously that it was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

Provided the time frame, within the waning days of strict Jim Crow guidelines, with desegregation ebbing into general public education, there nevertheless ended up being evidence of discrimination elsewhere in your community. Buckroe Beach had been still mostly split, with Bay Shore resort nevertheless a choice for blacks. Blacks only lived in a few communities. The regional enjoyment park ended up being segregated.

The Sethmans, who raised three children, stated they endured many uncomfortable stares and encountered a few unsettling incidents.

“We form of got along side each other even though that at the full time, there was clearly, you know, colored restrooms and white bathrooms and bus stations . ” Julia Sethman stated.

Nevertheless the few shrugged it off, having received large amount of help from buddies.


“Well, we simply kept close to going. We can’t stop individuals from considering you, if not having their viewpoints,” Julia Sethman said. “But they never ever purchased their opinions out verbally and spoke them to us. Never.”


Ted Sethman, an indigenous of Kent, Ohio, grew up in a community that is small graduated from high school in 1964.

Sethman, raised Catholic, stated he went to a college that has been mostly white, but his moms and dads did understand some black colored families.

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

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

Julia Miles Wilson, who is a Hampton native and Baptist, stated she became a mother at 16, quickly hitched as a result and would not finish high school.

With Fort Monroe, then an energetic army post, in the vicinity and throngs of men and ladies serving, Julia Sethman stated white persons to her experience had been generally neutral.

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

By the full time she came across Ted, Julia Sethman had a son that is 7-year-old James, and had been estranged from her son’s daddy.

A friend that is good of was marrying a buddy of Ted’s, she stated.

On the night of their wedding, Julia Miles Wilson endured during the altar and viewed as buddies associated with the groom joined the chapel.

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