Racial Union: Law, Intimacy, and the White State in Alabama, 1865-1954

Racial Union: Law, Intimacy, and the White State in Alabama, 1865-1954

University of Michigan Press
368 pages
6 x 9
Cloth: 978-0-472-09885-9
Paper: 978-0-472-06885-2
Ebook: 978-0-472-02287-8

Julie Novkov, Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies
State University of New York, Albany

Co-winner of the American Political Science Association’s 2009 Ralph J. Bunche Award for the best scholarly work in political science.

A stunning exploration of America’s attitudes on interracial marriage.

In November 2001, the state of Alabama opened a referendum on its long-standing constitutional prohibition against interracial marriage. A bill on the state ballot offered the opportunity to relegate the state’s anti-miscegenation law to the dustbin of history.  The measure passed, but the margin was alarmingly slim: more than half a million voters, 40 percent of those who went to the polls, voted to retain a racist and constitutionally untenable law.

Julie Novkov’s Racial Union explains how and why, nearly forty years after the height of the civil rights movement, Alabama struggled to repeal its prohibition against interracial marriage—the last state in the Union to do so. Novkov’s compelling history of Alabama’s battle over miscegenation shows how the fight shaped the meanings of race and state over ninety years. Novkov’s work tells us much about the sometimes parallel, sometimes convergent evolution of our concepts of race and state in the nation as a whole.

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