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The Time and Place That Gave Me Life



"Interracial dating, furtive for so long, had erupted in the civil rights movement like Mt. Sinabung, the Sumatran volcano that was dormant for four hundred years." 


It was the sixties. Everything was changing. People were demanding freedom of every kind. Freedom from racism, from the war in Vietnam, from sexism, from police brutality, from college courses that ignored the achievements of everyone except those of European descent. So, why not, also, the freedom to marry whomever you choose?


In 1965, before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ban on mixed marriages was unconstitutional, in many states it was a crime to marry "outside your race." And less than 1% of Americans chose to commit that crime. This is the story of how I came to defy that ridiculous law.



A coming-of-age memoir that confronts race and gender issues in middle America during the pre-Civil Rights era.

“Janet Cheatham Bell's beautifully written memoir is both a tender meditation on her close-knit midwestern black family and a searing indictment of the mid-twentieth century racism that circumscribed their lives. Her spirit and resilience—as she grows from depression-era toddler to confident civil rights era woman—will keep you captivated and cheering. This coming of age tale has universal appeal and should be required reading for all Indiana high school students.”

A'Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground:
The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker
, and Madam Walker's great-great granddaughter