Death of ‘a devil’: The white supremacist got hit by a car. His victims celebrated.

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Virginia on 2017-08-03 18:23Z by Steven

Death of ‘a devil’: The white supremacist got hit by a car. His victims celebrated.

The Washington Post
2017-08-02

John Woodrow Cox, Reporter


Walter A. Plecker, an avowed white supremacist who ran Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics for 34 years, in Richmond. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

He built his career on the systematic oppression of blacks and Native Americans, becoming one of the country’s most influential white supremacists. For more than three decades, from 1912 until 1946, Walter Ashby Plecker used his position as head of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics to champion policies designed to protect what he considered a master white race.

He was the father of the state’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which designated every person in the state as either white or “colored” and criminalized interracial marriage. Plecker insisted that any person with a single drop of “Negro” blood couldn’t be classified as white, and he refused to even acknowledge that Native Americans existed in the commonwealth, effectively erasing their legal identities.

Then, on Aug. 2, 1947 — one year after his retirement — Plecker stepped into a road in the Confederacy’s former capital and was hit by a car. Blacks and Indians had good reason to celebrate…


A column on the death of Walter Plecker that appeared in the Richmond Afro-American on Aug. 23, 1947.

Read the entire article here.

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How a long-dead white supremacist still threatens the future of Virginia’s Indian tribes

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States, Virginia on 2015-07-01 14:45Z by Steven

How a long-dead white supremacist still threatens the future of Virginia’s Indian tribes

The Washington Post
2015-07-01

Joe Heim, Staff Writer


Walter A. Plecker’s goal as Virginia’s registrar of vital statistics was to ban race-mixing. He declared there were no true Indians left because of marriages with blacks. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia’s Indian tribes have faced numerous obstacles in their decades-old quest for federal recognition. But one person has long stood in their way — and he’s been dead for 68 years.

Walter Plecker — a physician, eugenicist and avowed white supremacist — ran Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics with single-minded resolve over 34 years in the first half of the 20th century.

Though he died in 1947, Plecker’s shadow still lingers over the state, a vestige of a vicious era when racist practices were an integral part of government policy and Virginia officials ruthlessly enforced laws created to protect what they considered a master white race.

For Virginia’s Indians, the policies championed by Plecker threatened their very existence, nearly wiping out the tribes who greeted the country’s first English settlers and who claim Pocahontas as an ancestor. This month, the legacy of those laws could again help sabotage an effort by the Pamunkey people to become the state’s first federally recognized tribe.

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.

The act didn’t just make blacks in Virginia second-class citizens — it also erased any acknowledgment of Indians, whom Plecker claimed no longer truly existed in the commonwealth. With a stroke of a pen, Virginia was on a path to eliminating the identity of the Pamunkey, the Mattaponi, the Chickahominy, the Monacan, the Rappahannock, the Nansemond and the rest of Virginia’s tribes…

Read the entire article here.

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A Letter and the Legacy of “Not White” in the USA

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-04 18:29Z by Steven

A Letter and the Legacy of “Not White” in the USA

Nursing Clio: Because the Personal is Historical
2014-11-04

Adam Turner, Co-founder and Technical Editor

With the events of the past months, and as Austin McCoy discussed here on Nursing Clio last week, it should be clear that white privilege is still alive and well in the United States. Despite the optimism following President Obama’s election six years ago, and the Republican Party’s tweets, we do not yet live in a society where the color of your skin doesn’t matter. To make matters worse, while the discussion should be about how best to fix the problems of racial injustice and economic oppression in the United States, substantial numbers of people refuse to even accept that it’s a problem. They prefer to believe that those who suffer from systemic poverty, police violence, and a biased justice system get only what they’ve earned by being lazy, or breaking the law, or acting badly.

This message comes most clearly from pundits like Bill O’Reilly, who continue to argue that white privilege died with the end of legal segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. More than that, they assert that white Americans are the new victims of discrimination. Going after O’Reilly feels like a cliché at this point, but unfortunately his arguments aren’t nearly as fringe as they should be. People who argue that white privilege doesn’t exist often do a few things:

  1. They point out that state-sanctioned slavery and segregation are over.
  2. They use anecdotes to try to prove systemic change, such as that “the most powerful man in the world is a black American, and the most powerful woman in the world — Oprah Winfrey — is black!” (that’s O’Reilly again).
  3. They suggest that people of color who are not African American benefit from policies designed to address the legacy of slavery that also discriminate against white Americans.

All of these arguments assume that more than 300 years of discrimination and racism can be wiped out by one generation’s worth of civil rights protections (and very little effort to address economic equality). The Supreme Court certainly seemed to believe this when they started dismantling the Voting Rights Act. Based on this assumption, they conclude that white privilege no longer exists, and therefore policies designed to break cycles of inequality discriminate against white Americans. For many white-identified Americans, these conclusions make a lot of sense, especially in light of the economic recession.

This assumption, and the denial of white privilege, misunderstand both the depth and the breadth of racial injustice in the United States.

To get a sense of what I mean, let’s step back 90 years to 1924 to glimpse the long and personal echoes of racism in America. In the spring of that year, a new mother in Virginia received a letter from the head of the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. It read:

This is to give you warning that this is a mulatto child and you cannot pass it off as white. A new law passed by the last legislature says that if a child has one drop of negro blood in it, it cannot be counted as white. You will have to do something about this matter and see that the child is not allowed to mix with white children, it cannot go to white schools and can never marry a white person in Virginia. It is an awful thing

The head of the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, and the man who sent this heartbreakingly cruel letter, was Walter Ashby Plecker. Plecker, along with two other men, led Virginia’s most powerful white supremacist organization, the Anglo-Saxon Club. Together they played a key role in the passage of Virginia’s 1924 Act to Preserve Racial Integrity (the “new law” to which he refers in this letter). The 1924 law, one in a series of laws passed in Virginia during the 1920s based on racism, nativism, and eugenics ideology of the time, explicitly divided people into just two racial categories, “white” and “colored,” and forbade marriage (and thus implicitly sex) between the two. Virginia wasn’t the only state with such a law, but it became famous as the origin of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case that overturned these laws…

Read the entire article here.

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Kaine pushes for Indian recognition

Posted in Articles, Law, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2014-10-12 23:01Z by Steven

Kaine pushes for Indian recognition

Sulfolk News-Herald
Suffolk, Virginia
2014-10-02

Tracy Agnew, News Editor

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is making another push to recognize six Virginia Indian tribes, including the Nansemond, through his support of a proposed rule that would bring more flexibility to the process.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs governs the process by which tribes in America can gain recognition from the federal government, and the benefits that come along with it…

…Its stringent criteria require, among many other things, documentation of the tribe’s existence and lineage from 1789 to the present, according to comments Kaine made in support of the rule change.

But at least six Virginia tribes — the Nansemond, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock and Monacan — have found the administrative process unavailable to them because of the historical destruction of records.

Five of the six courthouses that held the majority of the tribes’ records were burned during the Civil War, Kaine noted in a letter to Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn.

Beyond this accidental destruction, a eugenics movement and fear of interracial marriages prompted officials at the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics to systematically destroy the vital records of Virginia’s tribes beginning in 1912.

In 1924, Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act codified the existence of only two races: “white” or “colored.” The law remained intact for nearly 50 years, forcing Indians to choose one or the other.

Officials even went so far as to retroactively change records to list Native Americans as “colored,” Kaine noted in his letter. This phenomenon is known today as “Pleckerism,” after Walter Ashby Plecker, the first registrar of the bureau, who was among the main officials who pushed to eliminate the Indian race in Virginia, at least on paper…

Read the entire article here.

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Bill to recognize Nansemonds passes committee

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2014-04-04 20:54Z by Steven

Bill to recognize Nansemonds passes committee

Suffolk News-Herald
Suffolk, Virginia
2014-04-02

A bill that would extend federal recognition to the Nansemond Indian Tribe and five others in Virginia passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The tribes, which also include the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock and Monacan, are officially recognized by the state but not by the federal government.

“I just hope we can finally get there,” Nansemond Indian Tribal Association Chief Barry Bass said on Thursday. “It’s been a long, hard road.”

The bill has passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee before, but a vote in the full Senate has been blocked by senators who believe the tribes should have to go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs as other tribes have done.

But recognition through the bureau’s administrative process requires documentation that current tribal members have a continuous line of descent from the historical tribes. That has been difficult, if not impossible, for Virginia Indians to prove, in part because of Walter Plecker, who was the registrar of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 to 1946. He replaced “Indian” with “black” for the race on many birth and death certificates that passed through his office, ensuring that no official documentation exists for many tribal members to prove their relationship to ancestors…

Read the entire article here.

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Much of South America and Mexico is today inhabited by a mongrel race white-black-red mixture.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-05-11 00:09Z by Steven

Much of South America and Mexico is today inhabited by a mongrel race white-black-red mixture, one of the most undesirable racial intermixtures known, as I can testify from my own observation of similar groups in Virginia.

W.A. Plecker, “The New Family and Race Improvement,” Virginia Department of Health: Virginia Health Bulletin, (Volume 17, Extra Number 12 (8), 1925). 17. (Source: DNA Learning Center). http://www.dnalc.org/http://www.dnalc.org/view/11280–The-New-Family-and-Race-Improvement-by-W-A-Plecker-Virginia-Health-Bulletin-vol-17-12-8-.html.

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The most perfect expression of the white ideal…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-03-20 04:00Z by Steven

Virginia has made the first serious attempt to stay or postpone the evil day when this is no longer a white man’s country. Her recently enacted law “for the preservation of racial integrity” is, in the words of Major E. S. [Earnest Sevier] Cox, “the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made during the past 4,000 years.”

W. A. Plecker, “Virginia’s Attempt to Adjust the Color Problem,” The American Journal of Public Health, Volume 15, Number 2 (1925): 111-115. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1320724/.

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there does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-01-04 23:01Z by Steven

Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and in the State Library, indicate that there does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood.

W. A. [Walter Ashby] Plecker, Circular Letter to “Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture,” Commonwealth of Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, December 1943. (Source: Rockbridge County (Va.) Clerk’s Correspondence, 1912-1943. Local Government Records Collection, Rockbridge County Court Records. The Library of Virginia. 10-0878-003). http://lva.omeka.net/items/show/63.

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Circular Letter to “Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture,” from Walter A. Plecker, State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Richmond

Posted in Law, Letters, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2013-01-04 19:59Z by Steven

Circular Letter to “Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture,” from Walter A. Plecker, State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Richmond

Commonwealth of Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics
Richmond, Virginia
December 1943

Source: Rockbridge County (Va.) Clerk’s Correspondence, 1912-1943. Local Government Records Collection, Rockbridge County Court Records. The Library of Virginia. 10-0878-003.

In a 1943 letter to local registrars, clerks, and legislators, Plecker asserted, “[T]here does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood.”

To Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture:

In our January 1943 annual letter to local registrars and clerks of courts, with list of mixed surnames, we called attention to the greatly increased effort and arrogant demands now being made for classification as whites, or at least for recognitions as Indians, as a preliminary step to admission into the white race by marraiage, of groups of the descendants of the “free negroes,” so designated before 1865 to distinguish them from slaves.

According to Mendel’s law of heredity, one out of four of a family of mixed breeds, through the introduction of illegitimate white blood, is now so near white in appearance as to lead him to proclaim himself as such and to demand admission into white schools, forbidden by the State Constitution.  The other three people of this type are applying for licenses to marry whites, or for white licenses when intermarrying amongst themselves.  These they frequently secure with ease when they apply in a county or city not the home of the woman and are met by clerk or deputy who justifies himself in accepting a casual affidavit as the truth and in issuing a license to any applicant regardless of the requirements of Section 5099a, Paragraph 4, of the Code.  This Section places the proof upon the applicants, not upon the clerks.  We have learned that affidavits cannot always be accepted as truth. This loose practice (to state it mildly) of a few clerks is now the greatest obstacle in the way of proper registration by race required of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in that Section. Local registrars, who are supposed to know the people of their registration areas, of course, have no excuse for not catching false registration of births and deaths.

Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and in the State Library, indicate that there does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood

Read the entire letter here.

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Is Elizabeth Warren an Indian?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2012-10-29 17:23Z by Steven

Is Elizabeth Warren an Indian?

The Aporetic
2012-09-27

Mike O’Malley

The ques­tion posed above is extremely hard to answer. She doesn’t “look like an indian.” But what do Indians look like?

Just to recap: Elizabeth Warren is run­ning for the Sen­ate in Massachusetts. She’s been widely mocked for claiming herself as “native Ameri­can” at var­i­ous points in her career. Warren grew up in what’s now Oklahoma, a vast region which the US government had originally reserved for Indian tribes relocated from the East…

…The racial past of Americans is far more complicated and ambiguous than Americans generally realize. My favorite example is very personal. According to Virginia, the state in which I now reside, I am a black man. Had my family stayed in VA, my father could not have attended white schools and my parents would not have been allowed to marry. It’s absurd, and ridiculous: I’m as white as any white man you’d ever imagine, and no one in my family even knew of this history till about a decade ago. But there it is, a mat­ter of record.

The man responsible, Walter Ashby Plecker, was convinced there were no “real” indians in VA. Instead, he argued, there lived a mongrel race of intermmarried people, the “WIN” tribe (White, Indian, Negro). If you listed yourself as “Indian” on official documents, Plecker would rewrite them, and change “indian” to “colored,” because there were no “real” indians. Had Warren grown up in VA, she would have been unable to prove any connec­tion to Indian ancestors, because Plecker destroyed the records. And yet, the descendants of Indians still live in Virginia today…

Read the entire article here.

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