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Crossing Boundaries of Race, Crossing Boundaries of Love

In the following article, Dr. Gary B. Nash, Director, National Center for History in the Schools and Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, describes his new book, Forbidden Love: The Hidden History of Mixed-Race America.  His book provides a counter narrative to widely held belief that white supremacy ideals throughout most of the nations history prevented or at least made exceedingly rare beliefs in racial equality and the virtue of a biracial or multiracial United States.   

For some years I have been writing and lecturing about the phenomenal change in American attitudes and behavior regarding “crossing the color line.”  My first stab at this was in my presidential address to the Organization of American Historians in 1995 (published in the Journal of American History as “The Hidden History of Mixed Race America.”  Pursuing this much further, my Forbidden Love: The Secret History of Mixed-Race America was published by Henry Holt in 1999.  I have now expanded and revised this book, just published by the National Center for History in the Schools as Forbidden Love: The Hidden History of Mixed-Race America.

Here is the kernel of the book in two sentences.  1) For three plus centuries American people have built walls to keep people of different so-called “races” apart, and now, in the last half-century, Americans have been tearing those walls down. 2) That over the long, dreary generations of trying to enforce racial separation many Americans found their way over, around, and beneath the racial walls—intrepid boundary crossers defying insistent boundary patrollers.

Here are a few examples of those who fought against the tide of racialism:

In staid, mostly white colonial Connecticut, a man of “unmingled African extraction” fathered a boy with a white young woman. That boy, precocious from an early age, became the first black preacher in Congregational New England. He fought as a minuteman at Lexington, Massachusetts in April 1775 and marched through deep snow to Fort