Episode 12: Mixed-Race Relationships

In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter married in Washington D.C., having left the state of Virginia to do so because of the Racial Integrity Act that had been in place in their home state since 1924. Upon their return, the couple, being mixed-race, were charged with, quote, “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” They pleaded guilty in 1959 and spent one year in jail, after which they had to leave the state.

In 1964, the couple sued the state of Virginia. Their case reached the Supreme Court in 1967, and the court struck down all state laws forbidding mixed-race marriages. Several decades later, this ruling allowed people like Zyda Culpepper Mellon, who is African American, to marry her white husband, and for Ricardee Franks, who is mixed, to also marry a white man.

Zyda Culpepper Mellon is an African American operatic soprano based in North Augusta, South Carolina. She is a recent graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio program where she earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Maryland College Park. Zyda currently lives with her husband, Jacob Mellon, and their two cats, Autumn and Tony.

Ricardee Franks was born in California and raised in Maryland by a single mother from Trinidad. She moved to Trinidad at nine years old when her mom remarried and has since moved back to Maryland, graduated college and grad school in the U.S., and started a family of her own.

This episode was produced by Julián Esteban Torres LópezAïcha Martine Thiam, and Nicole Zelniker.

The Nasiona Podcast shares stories that explore the spectrum of human experience and glimpse into foreign worlds. We focus on stories based on facts, truth-seeking, human concerns, real events, and real people, with a personal touch. From liminal lives to the marginalized, and everything in between, we believe that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover. Hosted, edited, and produced by Julián Esteban Torres López.

Our theme song is “Into the West,” courtesy of Tan Vampires.

You can also find our podcast episodes on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play Music, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.

Hosts

Founder, Executive Director, Editor-in-Chief

Julián Esteban Torres López is a Colombian-born journalist, publisher, podcaster, and editor. Before founding the nonfiction storytelling organization The Nasionahe ran several cultural and arts organizations, edited journals and books, was a social justice and public history researcher, wrote a column for Colombia Reports, taught university courses, and managed a history museum. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee and has written two books on social justice. Torres López holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and in communication and a master’s in justice studies from University of New Hampshire and was a Ph.D. candidate at University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he focused on political science and Latin American studies.

Twitter: je_torres_lopez

jetorreslopez.com

Managing Editor, Producer

Aïcha Martine Thiam is a trilingual writer, musician, and artist who goes where the waves take her, and an Assistant Editor at Reckoning Press. She will quote obscure film facts at you, unprovoked. Her collection of poems, “AT SEA” was shortlisted for the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize. Some words found or forthcoming in: BerfroisThe RumpusBright Wall/Dark RoomMetaphorosisSouth Broadway Ghost SocietyRIC JournalLamplight, TERSE. Journal, Gone LawnTruancy MagCrack the SpineConfessionalist ZineGhost City ReviewRogue AgentBoston Accent LitDéraciné.

Twitter: @Maelllstrom

maelllstrom.com

Interviewer

Producer, Managing Editor

NICOLE ZELNIKER is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School and an editorial researcher with The Conversation US. Her work has appeared on The Pulitzer Prizes website and in USAToday and Yes! Weekly, among other places. A creative writer as well as a journalist, Nicole has had several pieces of poetry published including “Cracks in the Sidewalk” (Quail Bell Magazine) and “Surge” (The Greenleaf Review), as well as three short stories, “Last Dance” (The Hungry Chimera), “Dress Rehearsal” (littledeathlit), and “Lucky” (Fixional). Zelniker’s book, Mixed, is a work of non-fiction about race and mixed-race families.

Follower her on Twitter and Instagram.

nicolezelniker.wordpress.com

Guests

Zyda Culpepper Mellon is an African American operatic soprano based in North Augusta, South Carolina. She is a recent graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio program where she earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Maryland College Park. Culpepper earned her Bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance from The University of Alabama.

Facebook: @ZydaCulpepper

Ricardee Franks was born in California and raised in Maryland by a single mother from Trinidad. She moved to Trinidad at nine years old when her mom remarried and has since moved back to Maryland, graduated college and grad school in the U.S., and started a family of her own.

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