Virginia Interracial Couple Reflects on 50th Anniversary

Virginia Interracial Couple Reflects on 50th Anniversary

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

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

It’s infrequently a couple can commemorate a golden anniversary, usually marked after five years of wedding.

Earlier this month Ted and Julia Sethman joined up with the ranks of these who have — and renewed their vows first manufactured in 1970.

“We never did such a thing for the anniversary,” 75-year-old Julia Sethman said, though she and hubby Ted, additionally 75, always would mention 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 absolutely nothing,” she said.

Their union was a rare event — the Sethmans are 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, who’s African United states, first met in 1969 at a shared friend’s wedding and quickly connected.

After having a short courtship, they received a permit through the Hampton Circuit Court and married at Zion Baptist Church on County Street about half a year later.

At the time, interracial couples frequently didn’t wed.

A data analyst with the Virginia Department of Health’s office of information management in Virginia in 1970, there were 244 interracial marriages out of 52,120 overall unions with at least one white partner, according to data shared by Peter C. Hunt. Data collected is from sources thought to be accurate and dependable at that point of the time, Hunt stated.

Only because present as autumn 2019 did Virginia state end race that is listing wedding licenses, said Linda Batchelor, Hampton’s clerk associated with the circuit court.

Had it been five years ahead of 1970, the few might not have been permitted 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 rules prohibiting interracial relations happen on the publications in Virginia dating back to to your century that is 17th history scholar Cassandra Newby-Alexander stated.

That changed in 1967, when Richard and Mildred Loving, a white guy and a black colored woman, challenged the state legislation that made their marriage illegal. Their situation went along to the U.S. Supreme Court, with all the top court ruling unanimously that it was unconstitutional underneath the 14th Amendment.

Provided the right time frame, into the waning days of stringent Jim Crow legislation, with desegregation ebbing into general public training, there nevertheless was proof of discrimination somewhere else in the area. Buckroe Beach had been nevertheless mostly split, with Bay Shore resort still an option for blacks. Blacks only lived in some neighborhoods. The local entertainment park ended up being segregated.

The Sethmans, whom raised three children, said they endured numerous uncomfortable stares and encountered a couple of incidents that are unsettling.

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

But the couple shrugged it well, having gotten a complete lot of support from friends.

“Well, we simply kept close to going. We can’t stop folks from considering you, and even having their opinions,” Julia Sethman said. “But they never purchased their opinions out verbally and talked them to us. Never.”


Ted Sethman, a native of Kent, Ohio, grew up in a little community and graduated from senior high school in 1964.

Sethman, raised Catholic, said he went along to a college that was mostly white, but his moms and dads did know some black families.

“There was only 1 black person in my (graduating) class,” he said.

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

Julia Miles Wilson, who is a Hampton native and Baptist, stated she became a mom at 16, quickly married as a result and didn’t finish high school.

With Fort Monroe, then a working army post, into the vicinity and throngs of males and ladies serving, Julia Sethman stated white persons to her experience was generally basic.

“We always got along side white people and always communicated using them,” Julia Sethman said. “We were always 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 father.

A friend that is good of ended up being marrying a pal of Ted’s, she stated.

In the night of their wedding, Julia Miles Wilson stood during the altar and viewed as friends associated with groom entered the chapel.

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