History 1302: American History
February 8, 2013
“Passing Strange,” was a set of biographies written about a nineteenth century explorer named Clarence King, and a former slave named Ada Copeland Todd King. The story was written to show a darker side of Clarence that biographers did not like to discuss. Ada married King believing that he was a black Pullman reporter, who went by the name James Todd. Making up a false life seemed to be the only way Clarence could marry the woman he loved, while protecting his public image. The two were happily married for thirteen years and had five children together, but their marriage was kept a secret from the world. Unfortunately, Ada didn’t find out about her husband’s true identity until he was on his deathbed. Ada found out that her husband was “an American that everyone wanted to be.” The marriage was not brought into the public eye until Ada tried to fight and receive the “trust fund” that her husband supposedly left to herself and the family. Unfortunately, King died a poor man and the trust fund was non-existent.
When I was watching the Interview of Sandweiss, she stated that most African Americans tried to pass off as whites to receive the same rights and privileges, but Clarence wanted the exact opposite. He was a blonde haired, blue eyed individual who wanted to pass as an African American. What I couldn’t grasp was the fact that anybody would want to do that, especially in this time period, where segregation was a major part of everyday life. Also, in this period of time, I have never seen an African American individual who has blonde hair and blue eyes. In the interview, Sandweiss states that the southern states were having a difficult time to detect race. So they came up with the idea that if one eighth of your grandparents are black, then so are you. This seemed like an easy way to get more people to be classified as an African American. I was waiting...