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Where, When, & Why Did the One-Drop Rule Originate?

In our next conversation, we’re going to talk to Dr. Matt Harris of Colorado State University-Pueblo.  We will talk about the “one-drop rule.”  How is it that Mormons determined blackness, especially if they were biracial families? We’ll also talk about a Supreme Court decision in the 1960s that legalized interracial marriage.

Matt:  What is interesting about this is that depending on the state, these laws are very fluid in the early 20th century.  I tell my students, we teach civil rights and we talk about this.  In fact, we discuss the book Loving vs. Virginia, which is the Supreme Court case that strikes down these miscegenation laws, declares them unconstitutional.  This is 1967.

But anyway, what’s interesting is that in the early 20th century these miscegenation laws are very fluid.  One state might say it’s one-quarter.  Another state might say it’s one-eighth, or one-sixteenth.  I joke with my students sometimes that on Monday, a black man can marry a white woman because they fit within the parameters of the law, but then they change the law on Wednesday and now it’s no longer constitutional.

Don’t forget to check out our previous conversation with Matt, and you might want to check out our interview with Dr. Paul Reeve, where we talk about where Woodruff incorrectly quotes Brigham Young referring to anyone with “one-drop” of African blood not being eligible for the priesthood.  (The quote is NOT accurate.)  Check out our conversation…..

How do you determine blackness? Is one-drop enough?
How do you determine blackness? Is one-drop enough?

 

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