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You Can’t Quit Being White: Arizona Territories Intriguing First Inter-Racial Marriage Trial with Bernard Wilson

February 15, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court Case Loving vs. Virginia, the validity of an inter-racial marriage was dependent upon the state or territory a person lived. In the Arizona territories the laws governing miscegenation, or inter-racial marriage, focused on the prevention of creating mixed racial persons, rather than actual marital unions. In 1892, a couple would face multiple trials defending their right to be treated as a married couple in the eyes of the law. The citizens of Tucson were not offended at the co-habitation or miscegenation of an inter-racial couple or a millionairess marrying several stations below her economic station, but the renouncing of a privileged ethnicity and perpetration of lie would not be tolerated. Newspaper editorials stated David was “…entitled to a good licking at a whipping post…” for renouncing his white heritage to marry a mulatto millionairess. This lecture concludes with a most unusual inclusion of the Rockefeller businesses and the unfortunate passing of miscegenation laws in Arizona.

This program is cohosted by Copper Queen Library. This is a virtual event.

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Bernard Wilson is an independent researcher, who began his humanities research as part of a personal genealogical investigation into his family. He has spent the past twenty-three years researching Tucson’s African-American pioneers and community. His first book, The Black Residents of Tucson and Their Achievements: A Reference Guide, exposed that Tucson had a large and thriving African- American community that included mining millionaires. His subsequent publications derived from the research for his book. Currently, his research focuses on the individual lives of the Old Pueblo’s African-Americans.

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