What Nelson Mandela Fought For

World of Weddings: Marriage of mixed-race couple in South Africa is “exactly what Nelson Mandela fought for”

In our weeklong series World of Weddings, we sent a team of correspondents around the globe to witness unique ceremonies and understand what marriage means in different cultures. In our third report, we take you to South Africa, where as recently as the 1980s mixed-race marriages were illegal under apartheid.

Two worlds collided as the Maselas and the Daltons came together in Pretoria, South Africa, for the marriage of their children Mante and Andrew. Once outlawed and punishable by prison, celebrating love across racial and cultural barriers would have been unimaginable in apartheid South Africa.

Although apartheid is over, weddings like Mante and Andrew’s are still the exception to the norm, CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reports.

“My grandmother, who unfortunately isn’t here to this day, she was more excited than anyone else because she’s like, ‘This is exactly what Nelson Mandela fought for,'” said the bride, Mante Maselas.

Mante is Pedi, one of South Africa’s many ethnic groups, and Andrew’s family is from England. The families gathered to negotiate a bride price known as lobola, traditionally a means to cement ties between two families. Lobola is a centuries-old tradition that used to be paid in cattle, but that’s a little complicated in modern times.

“At first I was a little bit skeptical because obviously, again, something’s new to me, but you have to go in with an open mind and you have to respect the culture and the family,” Andrew said. “And at the end of the day if I want to marry Mante, that’s something I’m going to have to do.”

The final amount is confidential, but a young well-educated woman like Mante could easily fetch up to 15 cows, the equivalent of just over $10,000.

As Mante got ready for her wedding ceremony, she acknowledged it’s not always easy being a modern couple navigating traditional African customs.

“We’re just doing what we need to do in this period to make our parents happy, and then we go back to our normal lives where we don’t have to fall into the gender roles,” she said.

In that moment she had a more pressing concern: “I am also worried about his dancing,” she said, laughing. “He’s been trying to practice the moves.”

At the ceremony, there also was a thoughtful, if slightly misplaced, nod to Andrew’s heritage: bagpipes. Nobody seemed to mind that Scotland and England are completely different nations. But, for the most part, was a thoroughly African affair, which included being schooled in how to be a good wife.

The traditional ceremony was part of 10 days of festivities, culminating in what many would regard as a thoroughly modern wedding at a wine farm just outside Cape Town.

That ceremony was very much Mante and Andrew’s event. Their friends flew in from around the world for the big day, part two. There were the usual wedding-day nerves and the bride’s almost obligatory late arrival, followed by the joyful walk down the aisle on her father’s arm. And then it was time to party, where Andrew’s dance moves were finally put to the test.

For family friends like Rudi Matjokane who lived through apartheid, there was even more cause to celebrate.

“Love knows no boundaries,” he said. “In those days, love would know boundaries because then you would be arrested for having it, so it’s the proudest day of my life.”

While weddings like this are still unusual, for Mante and Andrew it felt completely natural. They’re just two young people deeply in love.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was born August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York.  From a young age, Ball had an interest in performing. In fact her first stage was the counter of her local butcher!  Here she would entertain incoming customers with her dancing, twirling and her (personal favorite) rendition of a jumping frog. While Ball was exuberant and full of spirit, she was actually incredibly shy.  In fact this affected her in acting school as well.  Ball’s instructors even expressed their thoughts as to how they thought “Lucy’s wasting her time…and ours. She’s too shy and reticent to put her best foot forward.”  Although the words hurt, Ball never quit, as her legacy shows.

Despite the trials and tribulations that Lucille Ball faced, she continued to pursue her dreams.  Chasing her dreams not only lead to her success with the show “I Love Lucy,” but it also led to love.  Lucy met Desi Arnaz, a Cuban singer and performer on the set of “Too Many Girls.” Here is where their relationship began.  As their relationship developed they became inseparable; six months later they got married in 1940.  Later in 1951, they had their first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz.

Their family and marriage would help revolutionize television for multiracial people and families to come.  Not only did they feature their real-life, interracial marriage on TV, they broke the barriers of hiding pregnancies on television as well.  In the ‘50s, discrimination against minorities including Latin-Americans and multiracial people was tense. So being in an interracial marriage with a Latin-American definitely wasn’t easy for Lucille,  When acting in “I Love Lucy,” Ball wanted Arnaz to play as her TV husband.  The network pushed for it to be someone else for they feared that no one would want to watch an interracial couple on TV.  Boy, were they wrong!  Through Ball’s persistence she gave the multiracial community a platform in showbiz.

Not only was this interracial couple on stage, but they were also behind the scenes. With all the success of “I Love Lucy,” Desi Arnaz decided to establish a production studio of his own: Desilu Productions.  With Lucille as vice president and Desi as president, this power couple was having success after success.

While the Arnazes marriage came to an unfortunate end in 1960,  Lucille and Desi were able to still be friends.  Eventually Lucille bought out all of Desi’s holdings in the company, and she became president of Desilu.  Ball was the first woman to head a major production company.  What I love about Lucille Ball is that she was very persistent and hardworking, no matter what was thrown at her.  Ball fought for what she believed was right and that would change history for women and multiracial people in television business forever!



Madelyn Rempel, President of Project RACE Kids


Picture Source: https://www.history101.com/lucille-ball/

It’s Famous Friday!

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian

Serena is thirty seven years old. She is one of the greatest women’s tennis players. She has won a record 23 Grand Slam tennis titles. She met thirty six year old Alexis Ohanian in May of 2015 at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel in Italy. He had never watched her play. Alexis is co founder of the social new website Reddit. His father is Armenian and his mother is from West Germany. Serena had never heard of Ohanian. She invited him to Paris to watch her play in the French Open and they walked around for hours before the tournament began. He soon began showing up at all of her matches to watch her play. Ohanian proposed to Williams in December of 2016 at the same place they met. Williams announced their engagement on Reddit. Serena found out that she was pregnant in January 2017 while she was playing in the Australian Open. She ended up winning the Australian Open while she was eight weeks pregnant. Alexia Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born on September 1, 2017. Serena opened up about their interracial marriage in an interview with the New York Times. She stated “Literally all I tell Alexis is, ‘well, you know, there’s such a difference between white people and black people.’ He always gets to hear about the injustices that happen; that wouldn’t happen if I were white. It’s interesting. I never thought I would have married a white guy, either, so it just goes to show you that love truly has no color, and it just really goes to show me the importance of what love is. And my dad absolutely loves Alexis.”  The birth of Alexis made her father even more aware of the need for paternity lead. Mr. Ohanian is currently in the spot light for fighting for paid paternity leave. He has met with others who have fought for federal policy. One out of four dads has access to paid leave and even fewer have leave available to them through their employers. The US is the last country in the developed world without a policy for family leave.


Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens President Emeritus


Photo Credit: instyle.com

Intermarriage Report

From Pew Research:

One-in-six newlyweds (17%) were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity in 2015. This reflects a steady increase in intermarriage since 1967, when just 3% of newlyweds were intermarried, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center analysis.

While Asian (29%) and Hispanic (27%) newlyweds are most likely to intermarry in the U.S., the most dramatic increases in intermarriage have occurred among black newlyweds, 18% of whom married someone of a different race or ethnicity, up from 5% in 1980. About one-in-ten white newlyweds (11%) are married to someone of a different race or ethnicity.

Among both Gen Zers and Millennials, 53% say people of different races marrying each other is a good thing for our society, compared with 41% of Gen Xers, 30% of Boomers and 20% of those in the Silent Generation, according to the Center’s 2019 report.

Is Kamala Harris Black?


I like Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), but she disappointed me today. In a radio interview, Harris was asked about her “blackness.” Her parents were born in India and Jamaica, making her what we would call biracial or multiracial. She is, of course, very free to racially identify as she pleases and apparently she identifies as black. Absolutely fair enough.

The problem I have is when she tries to represent everyone—and no, she’s not the president yet, so she doesn’t get to do that. She said, “I’m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are.” She also said, “I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.” We do understand. We understand that Kamala Harris is defending the ridiculous old one-drop rule that if you have one-drop of black blood, you are black. We understand what it means to identify as multiracial. We understand that some people negate the race of one of their parents. We also understand that she is going after the black vote in her bid for the presidency and she’s being political. Perhaps she should consider the multiracial votes. We also understand that if she ever needs a bone marrow transplant, her Indian side will very much be a factor for a match no matter how much she says she is only black.

The Senator was also questioned about her marriage to a white man, which she defended, thank goodness. I don’t know if they have children or plan to, but I hope she gives some thought to how they will racially identify. If only Harris had said she identifies as black but is also proud of her biracial heritage, I would not be so disappointed. –Susan Graham


It’s Famous Friday!

Ben Baker


A few months ago, my family and I made the three-hour trek down to NYC to be photographed by world renowned photographer Ben Baker. This fall he started working on a project that highlights multiracial families (like mine!) and their positive impact on our nation. We met Ben Baker at his studio in Chinatown. He was very friendly from the moment we met him. He told us a bit about his homeland, Australia, and his past photoshoots. It was all so cool! We even got to sit on the same stool that former president, Obama, sat on when his portrait was taken by Ben!

Ben Baker was born in Adelaide, Australia. He currently lives in Chinatown in New York City.  He is an Australian and American portrait photographer.  He has photographed many people, including presidents Obama, Trump, Clinton and Bush, and huge entertainers like Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and Tony Bennett.

As a child he grew up traveling with his dad around the Outback. Ben grew up near Alberton Oval, where his dad exposed him to sports while his mom introduced him to the arts. This is how his inspiration for art grew.  He did well in art class in school, which led him to apply to TAFE (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_and_Further_Education), to study photography. Unfortunately, he was rejected. However, he didn’t give up on his dream. He ended up being able to work with some local photographers that took him under their wings.

Ben’s plan was to travel to South America and Britain to further his career, but when he ran out of money at the age of twenty-three, he found himself in New York City! As Ben would put it, “luck” would lead him to become the assistant of the legendary photographer, Annie Leibovitz. Before he knew it, his work was showcased in New York Magazine, Fortune. It was Fortune that gave him his big break to photograph the 2008 presidential candidates. This eventually led to famous portraits of the Obamas for Barak’s second term. When the weather forced him to improvise this monumental photoshoot, Ben reflected and said, “I love these moments – they’re incredibly stressful, the thrill of the chase, but sometimes the best moments are when you can walk away knowing you have succeeded.” And on taking big chances in photography Ben says, “It’s a dance, but the crazy part is I know the steps.” Ben’s adaptability to stressful situations and personable disposition has opened many doors!

You might come across his several projects featured on his website.

Ben is also in a biracial marriage. While Ben photographed Obama’s top economic advisers at the Treasury Department, he met his future wife, Marti Adams Baker. Marti Adams Baker, a Spellman alum, formerly worked as a deputy communications director for Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York. At the age of 30, in 2014, Marti Adams Baker was featured in Mary Claire Magazine, being quoted about her success, “The first thing I do each morning is grab my BlackBerry to check for breaking news. I definitely had those early mornings when my hair is still wet and I’m getting a phone call from the mayor. I have to read everything before I see him.” But before coming to City Hall, Marti Adams Baker was deputy press secretary for Michelle Obama, and in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Marti is a force to be reckoned with!

Ben and Marti Baker are a true biracial power couple which we are honored to highlight for their contributions to our nation! We admire the work Ben is putting forth to highlight multiracial families in our nation. Can’t wait to see the finished product! He is taking on the political, entertainment and current event scene one portrait at a time!


-Madelyn Rempel, Project RACE Kids President

picture source:



It’s Famous Friday!

Mildred Loving

Mildred was multiracial and started dating a white male, Richard Loving. At the age of 18 she became pregnant and so they decided to marry. They could not marry in Virginia because of their race so they drove to Washington D.C. to get married. After the Loving’s were married they returned home to Virginia. Mildred and Richard were married only a few weeks before two deputies came into their home in the middle of the night to arrest them for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, which forbid interracial marriage. They were told their marriage certificate held no power in Virginia. One huge reason states had these laws were because they did not want multiracial children. After serving some jail time and pleading guilty they were ordered to leave the state of Virginia for twenty-five years to avoid prison time. The Loving’s moved to Washington D.C., but Mildred missed Virginia. She decided to sit down one day and write a letter to the Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy. The American Civil Liberties Union then got involved. The case was Loving vs. Virginia. The Supreme Court struck down the Virginia law in 1967 which also ended the remaining ban on interracial marriages in other states. The judges unanimously ruled in favor of the Loving’s with the chief justice writing “the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” This ruling ultimately marked the end of segregation laws in America.

Picture Credit: NYtimes.com

An Interracial Marriage

An Interracial Marriage: Seeing life through the eyes of the other

by Guest Contributor Michael Dobson

Dobson Christmas

It’s hard to write about your spouse or your marriage, but easy to write about love. When writing about both, it’s a story of humanity, of our world and the lens through which we see and experience our journeys.

Nearly 20 years ago I called my eldest daughter Mia and told her that her dad was about to do something radical, that I was about to marry a white women. She was happy for me. There were few interracial marriages then. When we married In Leon County those 20 years ago, to some, we were pioneers of some sort. We were radical   “cool”… the interracial couple, not just living together, but married and raising a family. With the Tallahassee community being more  “liberal” than some others,   we never thought of any backlash.

For us, the issue of race was never a  concern. That’s not how we were reared.  My wife and I are children of the 1960s , but by living in completely different worlds, we saw those years through starkly different lenses.  She was reared in the white suburbs of Chicago, while my early years were mostly in Jim Crow era Florida, with annual sabbaticals to Elizabeth New Jersey.. only to keep returning to Florida. We both saw the 1960’s riots on TV, when  Watts and Detroit burned. Being black and white then, meant living in completely different worlds. We saw America come of age with the assassinations of JFK and  Bobby Kennedy,  and of   Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   We viewed, from different racial camps, America’s struggle to reform itself  after the passage of the civil rights act.

In the intervening years, we’ve all seen race relations harden and change for the worst. At the same time, paradoxically,  we’ve  seen the number of interracial families quadruple along with a spike in  interracial dating, paralleling the changing attitudes about sexual orientation. We have also witnessed an uptick in  interracial and multiracial couples  in film and on television.  In the early days of our marriage, whenever my wife and I left our safe enclave of Tallahassee to travel the back roads, we’d invariably find ourselves at a restaurant or store…. whereby someone may look at us sort of askance, or stare just a little too long. At store checkout counters in Tallahassee, we often had to correct the cashier to advise them that we were together.. apparently, not an assumption easily  made in those days. That’s changed. But, there are a few actions by others toward us, which still elicit some pain, once remembered.

Despite having to withstand occasional displays of bigotry, my wife and I are  ordinary people in an ordinary marriage.  When my wife is upset with me, which may be today, it is never about race. Our marriage is like any other. Ordinary.  It requires constant work, is dependent upon patience, commitment, love, understanding and forgiveness.

What I can say is this:  The experience of walking through life with the women I married and  love (through good and bad times), who just so happens to have a different pigmentation than I, has provided a view of our  humanity not shared by many. It’s  a unique gift. As a black man, I get to see the world through the eyes of my wife.. a white women. I get to understand her and those of similar backgrounds whose family’s journeyed to America from Ireland, and their struggles to get their footing in the Midwest; me know their family  tragedies, their loss, heartbreak, grief and celebration;  the loss of dear relatives over time ( cousins, aunts and uncles), and  knowing the tapestry of her life.. her white life in America. Through her eyes, I get to better  know the struggle for equality for white women, just as I also know of the   struggles faced by my mother and the other strong  black women in my life, of  their humiliations, the  physical brutality overcame from their oppressor and the accompanying bondage,  and their dreams for their sons and daughters.  I got to see my wife fiercely protect our children from the rare teacher who practiced their own version of bigotry and racism ..not quite feeling this whole interracial thing. Through my eyes, she knows that  Dr. Benjamin E Mays is correct when he said “He who starts behind in the  great race of life must forever remain behind, or run faster than the man in front” meaning a black man has to work twice as hard to make the same dollar.  Through my eyes she saw the way society sometimes reacted to my skin color, that  black men are indeed treated differently than their white counterpart.

Through each other’s eyes, we understand the world and people better.  What we have been privileged to see through each other’s eyes, while warring  communities  struggle on the issue of race,  is that God does not have a favorite, that trials and tribulations are visited on the comfortable as well as the afflicted,  that people are good, that they have great hearts , that everyone has a story and a worry… that we are the walking wounded..  a part of our shared humanity. Through each other’s eyes, we’ve learned that our hearts and what breaks them does not change based on race or religion. We’ve learned that we endure each day with bright sunny smiles, with exclamation points on Facebook … i.e.  “Congrats”, with a “Awesome”,  or  an simple “Great” when asked how are you, even while some  are dying inside. We’ve learned that tragedy strikes us all and with the same intensity of grief regardless of race. Through my wife’s eyes and the experiences shared with the blending of our extended families; we have learned that regardless of race ethnicity, culture or sexual preference, we all want the same things out of life and care about the same things. Together, we’ve seen that irrespective of race, we all love our children, wanting them to have opportunities that escaped us; we want them to be healthy,  all have personal freedom to pursue our dreams,  have health care, a job that pays a living rage; we all  want a place to live, respect, food to eat.. just the basics, and to have those we love out of harms way.

Through each other’s eyes, we see our sameness. Through each others eyes,  we see the unfathomable ridiculousness of bigotry and racism; we see it for what it is.. its fear.  We know that what passes as racial indifference or bigotry is not based on any thing rational, but instead fear .. fear of what is different. Seeing life through each others eyes, we are more humane, and forever have our hearts and our minds open to live in wonder, not fear. Through each others eyes, our love and respect for all things in us and things that are different, is strengthened.

Michael Dobson, is a long time Tallahassee based governmental relations professional and columnist; President/CEO of Dobson, Craig and Associates (aka Dobson and Associates), and renewable energy policy leader as founder of Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Can be reached at michael@michaeldobson.org or Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

This article first appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat and USA Today. Michael Dobson has given Project RACE his permission to reprint the original essay.

Pew Research Report

You can read the new Pew Research Report on Interracial Marriage in the United States here:


Famous Friday

Ryan Gosling

This week’s Famous Friday features interracial power couple – Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling. According to US Magazine, The dynamic duo quietly tied the knot in early 2016 after being together for over 5 years. They have two beautiful multiracial daughters, Esmerelda and Amada.

Eva Mendes was born in Miami, Florida, and she is of Cuban-American descent. She is a singer, actress, model, and designer. You have probably watched her in major films like Hitch, Training day, and Stuck on You. She has also been the face of several advertisement campaigns for huge companies including: Revlon, Cartier, and Calvin Klein.

Ryan Gosling is of English, French Canadian, and Scottish descent. He is an actor most famously known for his role as Noah in The Notebook. You may also recognize him from his role in La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love, or my personal favorite Remember The Titans. Over the course of his career he has racked up multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

One time when asked about his family Ryan said, “It’s heaven, it’s like walking through a field of flowers everyday – I live with angels.” I love that we are beginning to see more and more interracial power couples in Hollywood. I also love that I am seeing more interracial couples on sitcoms and commercials. It is awesome, especially considering that not even 100 years ago interracial marriage was illegal. Remember to take time to celebrate interracial couples and multiracial people everyday, and especially during Multiracial Heritage Week which is coming up soon.

Photo courtesy of US Weekly