Wife Seeks Divorce After Learning Mother-in-Law is Black



  Jan. 25, 1911, Twins  

Jan. 25, 1911: Divorce proceedings reveal the peculiar tale of Elda P. Kenny/Kenney and her husband, Robert.

The Kenneys married in Cleveland in 1902 and moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter, The Times says. In 1910, the Kenneys returned to Cleveland to see Elda's parents and she decided to visit his parents in Shenandoah, Va.

Robert refused to accompany her, so Elda went alone. And she was horrified: Her mother-in-law "was as black as your shoe," she told the judge in her divorce proceedings. 



About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in #courts, Countdown to Watts, Crime and Courts. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Wife Seeks Divorce After Learning Mother-in-Law is Black

  1. Britt says:

    What a shame! It’s a sad day when you feel the need to hide your race to marry someone. As a black woman I can say he deserved to be divorced. How dare you lie to someone about who you are. That’s like not telling your wife you were really born a woman or vice versa.


  2. GingerSnaps says:

    Disagree! Consider how difficult and harsh life was for “colored people” at that time in this country’s history. You can’t judge Mr. Kenney by today’s standards. My grandfather was a mulatto and frequently traveled to other communities passing as a “pure” white man so he could feed his wife, 2 daughters and four sons. Do you think he should have let his family starve or go without? If honest, I think most people at that time would have “passed”, if they could; life would be easier and SAFER for you and your family. It is certain you would receive a better education, get better jobs and have a higher standard of living nor would you have to worry about the KKK or Jim Crow laws. My take is it seems like Mrs. Kenney didn’t love her husband very much or she was too fearful her children might come out looking like their grandmother. LOL!


  3. Sam says:

    I wouldn’t refer to my mixed Grandfather as a mule. That term is outdated- being mixed race, I hate when people insist on calling me “mulatto”. It’s pejorative.


  4. CJ says:

    @ Britt,,, WHAT??? or u serious? what did it matter whether he was light, dark, black or white? I totally agree w/ you Ginger.. she obviously did not love her husband.


  5. GingerSnaps says:

    Sam in 2011 you may consider the term mulatto as outdated. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone outside of a period film or novel use the word anyway. However, in 1910 and 1920 the U.S. Census takers used that exact term to describe my family members. And it doesn’t bother me one little bit, I am not at all offended. What pray tell does mixed race mean anyway? African Americans in particular, are a mixture of many different groups of people: whites, Native Americans and all other groups that may have either sneaked out to the slave cabins or aided runaway slaves in their escapes. Perhaps biracial would be more descriptive of what you consider yourself??? I suggest you keep the timeline of this news article in perspective.
    Thanks LAT I always enjoy this historical articles, entertaining and educational.


  6. Alex P. Gomez says:

    She was looking for out of the relationship. It is, what it is.


  7. Petrice says:

    He obviously didn’t love her enough to tell her the truth in the first place, so the whole relationship was built on a lie. Unfortunately, during this time, ‘passing’ occurred more often than people think.


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