This first marriage obtained mythic portions long before Disney remade the story and even shaped Virginia’s laws on interracial marriage.Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 codified individuals as white only if they had “no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian,” except for those who had one-sixteenth or less blood from American Indians—the so-called “Pocahontas exception”—a concession to some elite families who claimed lineage from Rolfe and Pocahontas’s only child.Virginia’s original penalty for those who wed interracially—banishment—was the same punishment the Lovings received nearly three centuries later.
In 1967, only 3 percent of newlyweds were interracial couples.
Today, 17 percent of newlyweds and 10 percent of all married couples differ from one another in race or ethnicity.
A 1924 Health Bulletin issued by the state of Virginia to warn white residents of the estimated tens of thousands of “near white people” who should be avoided as “their children are likely to revert to the distinctly negro type even when all apparent evidence of mixture has disappeared.” The state seal featuring an American Indian heads the bulletin, even though someone with more than one-sixteenth American Indian ancestry would not be permitted to marry a white person in that state.
While Rolfe—and his alleged future descendants—won esteem for association with an “Indian princess,” relatively little racial mixing occurred between English settlers and Native Americans.
In June, many Americans marked Loving Day—an annual gathering to fight racial prejudice through a celebration of multiracial community.