Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Anti-miscegenation laws (also called miscegenation laws) were laws enacted by individual states, prohibiting interracial marriage and relations. Although the term itself was not coined until the mid-nineteenth century, the practice began in Colonial times and continued in some states through the mid-twentieth century. Such laws prohibited the marriage of white to non-white persons, including African American, Native Americans and Asians. At one point, the laws went even further, to include forbidding the marriage of any other race to those of African descent. The penalties were severe and the fate of children born of such relationships hung in the balance. And it was not the Southern states only that enacted such laws; a number of unsuccessful attempts were made to make it a federal law. Anti-miscegenation laws were finally ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967, but stayed on the books in at least one state until 2001.