ID# 1324:
"State Registrar Plecker Comments on Criticism [by JAMA editor] of Virginia's Effort to Enforce Racial Integrity Law," The Richmond News Leader
Circa 1924
Pages: 1 of 1
University of Albany, SUNY, Estabrook, SPE,XMS 80.9 Bx 1 folder1-31

&quote;State Registrar Plecker Comments on Criticism [by JAMA editor] of Virginia's Effort to Enforce Racial Integrity Law,&quote; The Richmond News Leader

The News Leader, Richmond, VA., [torn off] State Registrar Plecker Comments on Criticism of Virginia's Effort to Enforce Racial Integrity Law [score] Dr. Morris Fishbein Writes Article Dealing With What He Considers Absurd Health Legislation in Numersous States. [score] Dr. Morris Fishbein, acting editor of the "Journal" of the American Medical Association and the author of numerous treatises on medical subjects, in an article called "Fads in Health Legislation," published in the current "American Mercury," attacks and ridicules the efforts of the state registrar of Virginia to enforce the state's racial integrity law. Dr. Fishbein's article deals with what he considers absurd health legislation in numerous states, including Colorado, Florida, Alabama, Texas and North Dakota. Stating that physicians and the public are often lax in obeying the law requiring registration of births and the legislators usually hesitate to provide the money wherewith to enforce the laws which they pass, the writer says this laxness sometimes produces ludicrous results, "but it is a question if folly in this department has ever attained elsewhere the heights revealed in a circular issued by the state registrar of Virginia on March 29 last." The circular, which states there are from 10,000 to 20,000, or more, near-white people in Virginia known to possess an intermixture of colored blood, and that the bureau has kept a watchful eye upon the situation, is then quoted. "The registrar," continued Dr. Fishbein, "obviously recognizes the frequency in the South of amourettes and apparently plans to prevent more of them by arousing public opinion. He recognizes also that at least 20,000 persons in the state have negro elements in their white blood and that on occasion the result of a marriage between two such ostensibly white persons may be a somewhat dusky progeny. [bullet] "What he does not know, and what no one else knows for that matter, is any certain method of determining when negro blood is present in a person, or how to determine just when the prospective infant of such a person will show it. Nevertheless, he is bold in attacking the problem, perhaps because his solution offers a means of providing funds for extending the work of his department." Record of Births. A statement of the bureau that it will register births, not only of babies, but of people born before the law went into effect, for a few[sic] of 25 cents each, is then quoted. The bulletin says the money is to be used "to provide printed forms, filing cases, desks, typewriters, postage and clerk hire, to begin a vigorous state-wide education propaganda. Dr. Fishbein's reference to Virginia concludes: "It thus becomes possible for any persons in the state of Virginia to obtain from the state registrar, for the small sum of 25 cents, a card certifying that he is white! Certainly, it the funds at the disposal of the registrar are as limited as he himself admits, he will have little opportunity to verify the statements made on the applications sent to him. And even if the matter came to a formal test, science would be quite unable to aid him in detecting the presence of a negro strain that was not obvious to the naked eye." "Dr. Fishbein's statement in the 'American Mercury,' wherein he ridicules Virginia's enforcement of her racial integrity law, is based on cold scientific facts and does not take in the human element," commented Dr. W. A. Plecker, state registrar, when the article was brought to his attention today. Problem Being Met. Scientifically it would be impossible properly to enforce the law, according to Dr. Plecker, but with the help of residents, physicians and registrars throughout the state the problem is being met in a most satisfactory way. All of the cases, he said, will, of course, not be found, but three-fourths of the attempted intermarriages will be caught up with. Clerks have been warned to watch out for them, and additional information is furnished these clerks as it is received. As an example of the possibility of enforcing the law properly, Dr. Plecker pointed to a case in Lexington, which has just been decided. The clerk refused to grant a marriage license to a couple, claiming the woman colored. Dr. Plecker, with his records of the county births from 1865 to 1896, went to Lexington for the case. These records showed the grandparents colored, and the license was refused. This one decision classes about 600 in this county as colored and their records are being marked, according to Dr. Plecker. Other individual cases will receive the same treatment, and the results of these cases together with the general work will go a long way toward the proper classification of these negroes with white blood. "Money isn't all that vital to the keeping of these records, though we could do more if we had the appropriation," said Dr. Plecker. The amount received from people wishing birth certificates amounted to very little, he said, while these certificates voluntarily made out played but a small part in the keeping of the records. Dr. Plecker expressed regret that quite a few people were knocking the work he was doing on the racial integrity law, but said "these knocks have no more effect on me than water on a duck's back. I expect to keep on it." Continuing, he said, "I consider this the biggest work of my life - really the climax of my life's work." [attached partial article] Annual Pony Pen[obscured] "Wild West Stuff Each [obscured] by Large Crowd of Visi[obscured] "Virginia does not even compromise by holding her round-up in the Western part of the state; she continues her "Wild West stuff" to the easternmost East of the Old Dominion - Chincoteague Island." Thus opens an interesting description of the annual pony-penning on Chincoteague in a recent bulletin of the National Geographic Society, Washington, which states that this "wild-horse round-up was first established when the cowboy's west "was still terra incognito." "Legend has it that they (the ponies on Chincoteague) are descendants of horses that swam ashore from a shipwreck in the eighteenth century," the article states. "When can- [end]

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