The Long History and Legacy of Passing in America

Anita Florence Hemmings

(Illustration by Chris Kindred for The Washington Post)

By Alex Laughlin, washingtonpost.com

Anita Hemmings was Vassar College’s first African American graduate. But no one was supposed to know that she was black.

A light-skinned mixed-race woman, Hemmings passed as white for most of her time at Vassar — until her roommate hired a private investigator to find out the truth.

Hemmings graduated college in 1897 and continued passing as white for the rest of her life. Her story fits in with a broader history of African Americans passing in this country for personal safety, economic and social reasons.

In this episode of “Other: Mixed Race in America,” we learn the story of Hemmings, and we also learn about the legacy of passing that is inherited through generations of mixed-race Americans.

Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/05/03/the-long-history-and-legacy-of-passing-in-america/?tid=sm_tw&utm_term=.ca1964c6cd7d

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