In contemporary America, particularly among the younger generation, there is an almost nonchalant acceptance of interracial friendships, marriages and romances. This was not the case throughout much of this country’s history. Interracial marriage was first outlawed by the colony of Maryland in 1664, and remained illegal in the state of Alabama up until 2000, the same year when a policy forbidding students from dating interracially was dropped by a prominent Christian university. Legal restrictions notwithstanding, individuals of various races have fallen in love with one another and have courageously formed relationships, enduring unspeakable violence and cruelty at the hands family members and strangers, not just law enforcement officers. The following titles depict both friendships and romantic relationships from the pre-Civil War era through the 20th century and up to the present day.
As the only white player on his high school basketball team, Finley doesn’t understand why his coach insists that he befriend Russell, a troubled black superstar who has just moved to their town outside Philadelphia. Finley lives in a violent neighborhood controlled by the Irish mob. Though Russell comes from a privileged existence on the West Coast, ever since his parents were murdered, he can barely function.
Pregnant and abandoned in Chile by her lover who is lured by the California gold rush, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Sommers heads to San Francisco herself. Disguised as a boy, she spends four years searching for the man she thought she loved, all the while being guided and cared for by Tao Chi-en, a Chinese healer.This is a sweeping historical novel that follows the adventures of its heroine from her childhood in Chile to the gold fields of California as she searches for her first love.
With the goal of becoming a lawyer, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford was selected as one of nine black students to integrate the all-white Little Rock Central High School in 1957. On the first day of classes the eight other students were advised to arrive at school as a group escorted by local ministers, but without a telephone Elizabeth never received word about this plan. As she stoically approached the campus by herself, she was mobbed by adult segregationists who hurled the most hateful and violent racial epithets at her. An iconic photograph captured white student Hazel Bryan, also fifteen, spewing venom at Elizabeth. Years later Hazel contacted Elizabeth to apologize, and for a time, the two women formed a friendship.
Just as his strength is about to give out, Morris, a young U.S. Navy enlistee, is pulled out of the waters of Pearl Harbor by a sailor who later perishes from one of the relentless Japanese Imperial Army torpedo attacks. When Morris returns home to Boston, he calls upon his rescuer's sister, Beatrice, to pay his respects. The comfort they offer each other is a godsend, while the sexual attraction they feel is as compelling as it is forbidden. Beatrice is black and Morris is white, and during the early 1940s Beatrice’s friends and relatives believe that nothing but trouble will come from this liaison. Morris tells no one about Beatrice because he is married and has a young baby that he has yet to get to know.
When Raina’s African-American mother and Nancy’s Japanese-American father fall in love and move in together, the grown-ups’ peers object to the relationship. The daughters, on the other hand, are highly competitive basketball players totally immersed in the rivalry between their South Central Los Angeles high schools. And Nancy quietly grapples with her one-sided attraction to Raina.
In 1939 with the reluctant blessing of her Philadelphia Negro family, classical singer Delia Daley marries David Strom, a German Jewish émigré, who teaches physics at Columbia University. Delia masterfully transmits her musical gifts to their three children, but the seething racial hatred of the era constricts and jeopardizes their lives to such a degree that the family’s Jewishness becomes totally eclipsed.