Students have demanded free tuition and housing for blacks as well as black-only dorms.
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Jason L. Riley
June 12 marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which held that states could no longer prohibit marriages on racial grounds.
“Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State,” wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren. Like an earlier landmark decision on race, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Loving opinion was unanimous and brief—just 10 pages long. It was also unsurprising.
For starters, nearly two decades earlier, in 1948, the California Supreme Court had already ruled that the state’s antimiscegenation law violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Court rulings aside, polling showed that racial attitudes among whites nationwide had shifted significantly in the postwar period. Between 1942 and 1963, white support for school integration grew to 62% from 30%, and white backing for neighborhood integration jumped to 64% from 35%. By the early 1960s, 79% of whites supported integrated public transportation, up from 44% in the early 1940s.
As Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy wrote in “Interracial Intimacies,” his book on the history of cross-racial romance, the high court’s Loving decision helped to further an existing (and welcome) trend. “Although a large majority of whites continued to disapprove of interracial marriage throughout the 1960s—in 1964, 60 percent of adult whites polled declared their support for antimiscegenation laws—the matrimonial color bar eventually suffered the same fate as all the other customs and laws of segregation.” Nor were white views the only ones evolving. In 1968 only 48% of blacks approved of mixed marriages.
The Loving decision was handed down amid a civil-rights movement in full swing. The 1963 March on Washington had already occurred. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act had already passed. In 1967 Hollywood released “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” about an interracial couple planning to marry, and it became a box-office hit. In 1967 Peggy Rusk, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson’s secretary of state, Dean Rusk, married Guy Smith, a black man. Time magazine called it “a marriage of enlightenment” and featured a wedding photo of the couple on its cover.
The irony is that we will mark the 50th anniversary of Loving at a time when race-consciousness is once again ascendant, not only among “alt-right” types, but more tellingly among self-styled progressives and left-wing institutions that once worked so hard to combat Jim Crow policies. The liberals who are cheering the recent removal of Confederate monuments to racial separatism also indulge the separatist rhetoric of groups like Black Lives Matter. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ’s calls for colorblind policies seem as dated as concerns about interracial hookups.
College campuses offer near-daily examples of this liberal devolution on racial matters. The most prominent recent episode involves Bret Weinstein, a biology professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., who has come under fire from students and fellow faculty members for criticizing the school’s “Day of Absence” protest, which involved whites quitting campus for the day.
Sadly, these antics have become commonplace in recent years. Students at the University of Wisconsin have demanded free tuition and housing for blacks. At the University of Michigan, a student group that previously complained about the lack of racial “diversity” and “inclusion” at the school has since requested a safe space on campus reserved for students of color to gather. At the University of Missouri, only students of color were invited to participate in a “die-in” protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
If the student demands are getting more outrageous, it’s only because the authorities on campus have become more compliant. Last year, at the urging of the school’s black student union, California State University, Los Angeles began offering segregated housing for black students. The University of Connecticut, the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Berkeley are among the colleges that have similar arrangements in place. “While these housing options are technically open to all students,” reported the College Fix, “they’re billed and used as arrangements in which black students can live with one another.”
This year, Harvard held its first-ever commencement ceremony for black graduate students. The New York Times reported that racially segregated end-of-year ceremonies “like the one held at Harvard have become more mainstream, more openly embraced by universities and more common than ever before.”
Many on the left today seem unable to decide whether all those Southern segregationists were wrong—or just ahead of their time. Progressives were more certain of themselves 50 years ago, and the court that decided Loving was right to follow their lead.
For details on the "E Pluribus Unum?" presentation, see.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University (http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/jhb7/) for over ten years, he still shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."