Four hundred years ago this past spring, North America witnessed its first interracial marriage.
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This Pocahontas represented a positive evolution over the one romanticized by colonists and glorified by Confederates—no longer a symbol of white supremacy, Pocahontas was a reflection of a more diverse America, a patron saint of multiculturalism.
At last, the Pocahontas myth seemed to have been rescued from America’s pernicious racial history. Unlike her cartoon counterpart, the real Pocahontas did not live happily ever after.
Like Squanto, who supposedly saved the Pilgrims from starvation, Pocahontas was romanticized as an Indian who gave a helping hand to whites.
At a time when one drop of African blood made one a slave or second-class citizen, a drop of Pocahontas’s blood was viewed as a source of high breeding, even aristocracy. Tilton has shown, America’s upper classes bragged of their descent from Pocahontas, and Confederates celebrated her as a progenitor of the South.
In the United States it was just 43 years ago when interracial marriage was made fully legal in all 50 states.