Anita and Ben Wedding Photo

Wedding photo

I Married a Black Man

As a white college student in the 1960s, I married my anthropology professor who was a hereditary Mende chief from Liberia, West Africa. In Slaves to Racism, An Unbroken Chain from America to Liberia, which we published in 2009, he shared his experiences in the Negro community during the 1950s. In his words:              Slaves to Racism Book Cover

“My Sarah’s Good to Me”

During the 1950s in St. Louis, a regular customer walked into the Negro barber shop while I was there. Sam owned an old truck and made his living moving furniture. Each time he came, he was impeccably dressed in the latest style. He wore a hat and his shoes were polished.

One of the men waiting for a haircut said to him, “You dress like this and you do this type of work?  Sometimes your wife doesn’t even come home. She stays in her boss’s house. Is it true he’s a bachelor?”

negro barber shop“Shut up, nigger, let me tell you. He’s good to Sarah. She came home the other night and you know what she put on the table?  Seven hundred and fifty dollars!  I was tired but when I saw it, my sleep went away.”

“Seven hundred and fifty dollars?  What for, Sam?”

“Her birthday’s this week. I was worried what to get her. She told me this was just a little of her birthday gift. There’s more comin’.”

“And you don’t say anything about it? Nigger you must be crazy!”

“Listen, Nigger. Sarah’s a good wife. She tells me everything.”

“You mean even about goin’ to bed with that peckerwood and you don’t get angry?”

“Nigger, your head must be screwed on wrong. You know what your woman’s doin’ bringin’ that kinda money. Take a good look at me. If you come to my house at any time, you’re gonna find bread on the table. That’s why I allow this. Your wife may be screwin’ someone but she doesn’t tell you. And that’s why you’re strugglin’. Nigger, you don’t know nothin’.”

After Sam left, the man said, “White folks like nigger girls. That white playboy is very regular with that sister. That’s gone on for a long time, right here in St. Louis.”

Our Love Story                                                                                                                   Beyond Myself Book Cover by Author Anita Katherine Dennis

As an Ohio farm girl, my husband’s accounts fascinated and saddened me at the same time, because they informed me in a personal way about the tragedy of slavery and racism and a community I’d never know.  I wrote our love story, Beyond Myself: The Farm Girl and the African Chief to carry on his work.