This from a movie – “Confederate States of America: If the South Would Have Won”... a “mockumentary”.
However – The Coon Chicken Inn actually existed…
Meanwhile, between 1924 and 1950, a Walter Plecker in Virginia sought to “disappear” not only Virginia’s Native American Tribes – but to stop “race-mongering” resulting in the Virginia “Melungeons”. In his infamous 1943 Letter, Plecker specifically called out certain families in Virginia as a threat to racial purity. One of the families he attacked was part of my own.
Obsessed with the idea of white superiority, Plecker championed legislation that would codify the idea that people with one drop of “Negro” blood could not be classified as white. His efforts led the Virginia legislature to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a law that criminalized interracial marriage and also required that every birth in the state be recorded by race with the only options being “White” and “Colored.”
Plecker was proud of the law and his role in creating it. It was, he said, “the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made in 4,000 years.”
Walter Ashby Plecker, in charge of the state’s vital statistics records, employed the law to classify all Virginians as “white” or “colored” and to classify the state’s Indians as “colored.” Plecker believed that some African Americans were attempting to pass as Indians and feared that Indians would attempt to pass as white. He obsessively documented each and every birth and marriage registration submitted to his agency and manipulated and distorted records to show that the genealogical heritage of Virginia’s Indians was so intermixed with Virginia’s African Americans that no real Indians existed.
Plecker’s obsession with racial integrity is well in evidence in this December 1943 letter and list of surnames by county of families that he believed were trying to “pass” for white or Indian. As State Registrar of Vital Statistics, he wrote many letters and directives to county officials were about specific individuals whom he felt were trying to pass as white. He often asked for evidence from the county clerk to prove the people in question were of African American descent. Plecker also regularly sent out alerts to the county officials, hospitals, doctors, midwives, and other healthcare workers and record keepers about families that he considered suspect. He instructed that these families were not to be allowed to be listed as white in any record or to be treated as white in any way, including attendance at white schools.
The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 recognized only two races, white and colored. The act required that a racial description of every person be recorded at birth, and made marriage between white persons and nonwhite persons a felony. Plecker developed the racial criteria behind the act and adhered strictly to the one-drop rule, a historical term originating in the South that holds that a person with any trace of African ancestry is considered black. The Racial Integrity Act was subject to the Pocahontas exception. Since many influential Virginia families claimed descent from Pocahontas, the legislature declared that a person could be considered white with as much as one-sixteenth Indian ancestry.
Much of Plecker’s belief system was “supported” by the eugenicist movement.
Those of you interested in historical research can read this book here.
In 1935, Plecker corresponded with Walter Gross, Hitler’s Bureau of Human Betterment and Eugenics director, asking to be kept abreast of their actions. In mentioning the Nazi sterilization of children born to white German mothers and black French fathers, he added, “I hope this work is complete and not one has been missed. I sometimes regret that we have not the authority to put some measures in practice in Virginia.”