Racial Integrity Act - 1924

SB 219, designated “Racial Integrity Act”, came into conversation in the Virginia state legislature in 1924 as an element of a two-part initiative to maintain an untainted white race in Virginia and the larger united states. In conjunction with SB 281, labelled “The Sterilization Act”, “Racial Integrity Act” would provide the legal framework for a systematic oppression of minorities and the disabled via eugenic practices, all in the name of preserving ‘whiteness’. In its essence, SB 219 required that there be a form to be filled out at every childbirth that would act as a certificate of racial composition and be approved by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. It would be used as a way to expand the law against interracial marriage in Virginia to include other minority groups. Additionally, the “Racial Integrity Act” instituted a new definition of a white person as being someone with a purely Caucasian genealogy, thus introducing the “one-drop rule”. This “one-drop rule” was particularly pointed towards African Americans as there still existed the caveat that allowed for anyone with less than one sixty-fourth of Native American blood would still be considered white, so long as there is no trace of African American. Speculation is that this exception to the rule was meant to appeal to a prominent group of Virginians who understood themselves to be descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. In order to marry in the state of Virginia, it was made necessary that both parties have a completed certificate that stands to prove that both people are either white or not. In its application from 1924 to its repeal with Loving v. Virginia in 1967, the “Racial Integrity Act” would serve as a useful tool in the prevention of interracial marriage.



Virginia Health Bulletin, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1924).