By Tanya Lee
Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 outlawed miscegenation, and its intent, quite simply, was to keep Anglo-Saxon blood pure. Wrote Plecker: “For the purpose of this act, the term ‘white person’ shall apply only to the person who has no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian.… The [terms] ‘Mixed,’ ‘Issue,’ and perhaps one or two others, will be understood to mean a mixture of white and black races, with the white predominating. That is the class that should be reported with the greatest care, as many of these are on the borderline, and constitute the real danger of race intermixture.”
(In 1932, Plecker gave the keynote speech at the Third International Conference on Eugenics in New York at the American Museum of Natural History under the auspices of the International Federation of Eugenics Societies. Ernst Rudin, who had come over from Germany for the conference, was unanimously elected president of the International Federation of Eugenics Societies. A year later, he became one of the architects of the racial policies of Nazi Germany that led to the Holocaust.)
Given Roosevelt's bigoted views on Indians, it's not too surprising that he believed in eugenics. But when a president and a Supreme Court justice believe in their own racial superiority, you know America's deck is stacked against you.
For more on the subject, see Vermont to Apologize for Sterilization? and Sotomayor, Empathy, and Sterilization.
Below: "Plecker wasn’t a lone wolf with his racial purity notions—eugenics had many supporters."