Sunday, August 7, 2005

Memo re: Walter A. Plecker

From the Richmond Times Dispatch c 2000

Peter Hardin

Times-Dispatch Washington Correspondent

Memo: Reclaiming History: The struggle of Virginia's Indians

Documentary Genocide: Families Surnames on Racial Hit List


"Plecker left a major paper trail.

He gave carbon copies of hundreds of his official letters, neatly typed on "Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Health: stationery to John Powell, a Richmond-born concert pianist and an outspoken advocate for race-purity measures in Virginia."

These letters show a bureaucrat intruding in individual lives, harassing, intimidating, bullying, and attempting to stamp out human rights.

The correspondence can be found in a collection of Powell documents at the U of VA's Alderman Library. Powell grad there at 18 w/a Phi Beta Kappa.

In one letter Plecker wrote: trying to correct a Lynchburg woman's supposedly false report of birth for her child. This was 1924.

"This is to give you warning that this is a mulatto child and you cannot pass it off as white," he wrote. Plecker told her of the new 'one-drop' rule that defined a white person as having "no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian."

"You will have to do something abt this matter and see that this child is not allowed to mix with white children." "It cannot go to white schools and can never marry a white person in VA." "It is an awful thing."

To a woman he knew in Hampton who was from a respectable white family he noted w/ surprise that she would ask abt a license to marry a man of mixed African descent. " I trust. . . that you will immediately break off entirely with this young mulatto man," he wrote.

He threatened a Fishersville woman w/ prosecution in 1944 for a birth record that hid her Negro lineage.

"After the war, it is possible that some of these cases will come into court. We might try this one. It would make a good one if you continue to try to be what you are not."

His writings support that Indians were a secondary target not the primary target of the eugenics movement in VA.

Plecker vehemently desired to preserve the color line.

"Two races are materially divergent as the white and negro, in morals, mental powers, and cultural fitness, cannot live in close contact without injury to the higher," he said in 1924.

"The lower never has been and never can be raised to the level of the higher."

Plecker was b. Apr 2, 2862, d. at age 86 in Aug 1947 when he crossed Chamberlayne Ave. in Richmond, VA and was hit by a car. (One of our friends noted that we can but hope the car was driven by a Melungeon.J

Plecker was a member of the Anglo-Saxon Club of America. It goals were the preservation of Anglo-Saxon ideals and the supremacy of the white race in the USA without racial prejudice or hatred.

"This was the KLAN of the aristocracy - the real gentleman's Klan," Said J. David Smith of Longwood College a eugenics expert.

In 1930, the legislature of VA defined 'colored' people as those "in whom there is ascertainable any Negro blood.

In his 30+ years as registrar of VA, Plecker stood up to those who disagreed w/ him. These included courageous Indians, a Virginia Governor, and federal officials. Some people were imprisoned for violations of these acts, but many juries wouldn't convict. It took the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 to void Virginia's anti-miscegenation law.

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