Book Feature: Before It Was Legal: A Black-White Marriage (1945-1987)

Book Feature: Before It Was Legal: A Black-White Marriage (1945-1987)

Nancy Werking Poling, Author

By Gina Malone,

Nancy Werking Poling, of Black Mountain, spent 11 days in 1986 interviewing an interracial couple who married before it was legal in their home state of Indiana, leading them, eventually, to settle in Mexico where their marriage was accepted.

Intrigue and a sense of romance led Poling to the story. “There’s something about difference,” she says, “that makes a story romantic: two people (Anna, white; Daniel, black) from different backgrounds forsaking family, friends and country to make a life together.”

What she found, however, in researching and writing about her aunt’s sister, Anna, and Daniel, was that theirs was not a “happily ever after” marriage and was one just as prone to problems as any other. Their story, she says, is “a case study related to a particular period in American history: the rise of the KKK in Indiana, Daniel’s labor union involvement and the impact of McCarthyism on individuals.”

With 2017 marking both the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (the Supreme Court ruling on state laws about interracial marriages) and the end of a biracial President’s term in office, and with racial clashes on the rise, Poling thinks her book is timely. “For me,” she says, “Daniel’s experiences as a black man, the power of the KKK in Indiana’s fairly recent history and current racial clashes are troubling indicators of our entire nation’s persistent racism.”

Before It Was Legal: A Black-White Marriage (1945-1987), March, 2017, nonfiction, softcover, $13.95, by Nancy Werking Poling, and published by Screech Owl Press, Black Mountain, NC. To learn more, visit

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