WSW: Changing Views Of Marriage "An Evolution Of The Heart And Mind"

Feb 11, 2016

Kalamazoo Valley Museum - file photo
Credit WMUK

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state laws banning “miscegenation” or bi-racial marriage in 1967. Michigan rescinded its own law that banned mixed-race marriage in 1883. The Kalamazoo Valley Museum will present Bi-racial Marriages: Narratives from Kalamazoo Sunday afternoon at 1:30. 

Elspeth Inglis, Assistant Director of Programs and Felix Brooks Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans. Brooks is also Director of International Admissions at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Inglis says her research hasn’t revealed why Michigan repealed its law banning interracial marriage in 1883. She says that could be a great “find” for some historian. Inglis says there was no obvious political or social pressure on the state to allow mixed-race marriage.

A couple of years after the law was repealed, an African-American businessman in Bangor Ed Cable married a white woman named Anna DeNoon. Inglis says newspaper accounts offered sympathy to the family of the bride. But Brooks says for those two people to marry and apparently live happily in Bangor shows that there had to be “pockets of tolerance” in Southwest Michigan.

Sunday’s program at the museum’s Mary Jane Stryker Theater will include more research about the couple in Bangor. Brooks and members of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College will be part of a panel discussion about interracial marriage.

Brooks says there are parallels between miscegenation laws and the debate over same-sex marriage. He says young people are much more accepting of mixed-race and same-sex couples. Inglis says “It is an evolutionary process, an evolution of the mind and heart.”

For Brooks the issue of bi-racial marriage is personal. He is an African-American man who is part of his second interracial marriage. Brooks says he notices the change in how people view him and his family out in public. He says “they’re much more accepting of this now, this is much more normal for them to see in their lives.”