Civil Rights

Decades after Supreme Court OK'd interracial marriage, couple says RV park owner won't rent to them

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Interracial marriages have been legal in the state of Mississippi since 1967, following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Loving v. Virginia, and a year later the Fair Housing Act banned landlords from refusing to rent based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Yet Erica Flores Dunahoo, 40, and Stanley Hoskins, 37, say the owner of a recreational vehicle park near Tupelo refused to rent a space to them earlier this year because of the color of their skin, reports the Clarion-Ledger.

According to Dunahoo, who is of Hispanic and Native American descent, owner Gene Baker accepted a $275 rent check on Feb. 28, gave her a hug and invited her to church. Then the next day he called her and said, “Hey, you didn’t tell me you was married to no black man.”

She told him she didn’t realize it would be a problem, Dunahoo says, to which he replied, “Oh, it’s a big problem with the members of my church, my community and my mother-in-law. They don’t allow that black and white shacking.”

Dunahoo pointed out that her husband, who is African American, had served his country for 13 years and is a sergeant in the National Guard to no avail, the newspaper recounts. Baker returned the $275 and the couple found a space in another RV park—for $325 a month.

Baker says he has no-problems with mixed-race couples, who can attend his church, the Clarion-Ledger reports. However, when asked by the newspaper if he would rent a space to another interracial couple he said, “I’m closing it down, and that solves the problem.”

The NAACP is investigating a complaint by Dunahoo.

“Racial discrimination should be a thing of the past in Mississippi, considering our long history,” president Derrick Johnson of the Mississippi NAACP told the newspaper.

See also:

NPR: “Loving Decision: 40 Years of Legal Interracial Unions”

Daily Beast: “The Straight Interracial Couple Who Paved the Way for Gay Marriage”

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