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Interracial Marriage Then and Now

Together for decades, four couples discuss struggles and offer advice

  • Peter and Jean Lin, Saratoga, Calif.

    Peter's mother was skeptical when he and Jean began dating. Chinese people who married outside their race were considered traitors. In their early years, the Lins were treated rudely at a gas station and were ordered out of a picnic area. When Jean traveled with her Chinese family, people sometimes assumed she was a tour guide. — Photo by Christa Renee

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In the last 30 years, the number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has more than doubled. In 1980, 7 percent of new marriages brought together people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds, reports the Pew Research Center. Today, 15 percent of newlyweds are crossing the racial divide.

See also: Faces of the Freedom Rides: Ten who went, then and now.

Societal attitudes about these unions have also shifted. Today, nearly
two-thirds of Americans say they're fine with people marrying someone of a different race. In 1986, only 28 percent of people agreed with that

Here are the stories of four couples, married more than 30 years, who
crossed racial, societal and even legal barriers to be the pioneers that
paved the way for today's new way of thinking about interracial marriages.

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