Virginia Interracial Few Reflects on 50th Anniversary

Virginia Interracial Few Reflects on 50th Anniversary

Whenever Ted, who’s white, and Julia, who’s African United states, very first met in 1969, mixed-race couples frequently would not marry

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

It is infrequently a couple can commemorate an anniversary that is golden often marked after five years of marriage.

Earlier 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 the anniversary,” 75-year-old Julia Sethman said, though she and hubby Ted, also 75, constantly would mention doing one thing.


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

Their union was a rare event — the Sethmans are an interracial few. After five decades, the couple reflected on marriage plus some associated with adversity they faced during their early years.

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

Following a short courtship, they received a license from the Hampton Circuit Court and hitched at Zion Baptist Church on County Street about 6 months later on.

At the time, interracial partners usually did not wed.

In Virginia in 1970, there have been 244 interracial marriages away from 52,120 overall unions with one or more white partner, based on data provided by Peter C. Hunt, a information analyst aided by the Virginia Department of Health’s office of information administration. Data collected is from sources considered to be accurate and reliable at that point of time, Hunt said.

Only since present as autumn 2019 did Virginia state end race that is listing marriage licenses, stated Linda Batchelor, Hampton’s clerk of this circuit court.

Had it been five years ahead of 1970, the few may not have been allowed to marry at all.


Under state code, the 1924 racial purity work, that was still in place throughout the mid-1960s, failed to enable interracial marriage in Virginia. Similar regulations prohibiting interracial relations are regarding the books in Virginia dating back to to your seventeenth century, history scholar Cassandra Newby-Alexander stated.

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

Given the period of time, within the waning days of strict Jim Crow regulations, with desegregation ebbing into public education, there still was evidence of discrimination somewhere else in your community. Buckroe Beach was still mostly split, with Bay Shore Hotel nevertheless an option for blacks. Blacks only lived in a few neighborhoods. The regional amusement park ended up being segregated.

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

“We type of got along side each other even though that at the time, there is, you realize, colored bathrooms and white bathrooms and bus stations . ” Julia Sethman stated.

However the few shrugged it well, having gotten large amount of support from buddies.

“Well, we just kept directly on going. We can’t stop people from taking a look at you, or even having their viewpoints,” Julia Sethman said. “But they never ever purchased their viewpoints out verbally and talked them to us. Never.”


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

Sethman, raised Catholic, said he went to a college that has been mostly white, but their parents did understand some black colored families.

“There was only one black person in my (graduating) class,” he said.

The excitement of the Air Force beckoned Sethman. He ultimately wound up at Langley in Hampton, where he became an E-4 professional and airplane auto mechanic.

Julia Miles Wilson, who is a Hampton indigenous and Baptist, stated she became a mother at 16, quickly married because of this and did not finish highschool.

With Fort Monroe, then a dynamic army post, in the vicinity and throngs of males and women serving, Julia Sethman stated white persons to her experience ended up being generally speaking neutral.

“We always got along with white individuals and always communicated using them,” Julia Sethman stated. “We were constantly raised getting along side everybody.”

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

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

In the night of their wedding, Julia Miles Wilson endured during the altar and watched as friends of the groom entered the chapel.

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