Kwame Anthony Appiah on Honour

From The Telegraph:

Kwamemarriage_1740089c On a summer’s day in July 1953 – in the elegant Regency-style St John’s Wood church, next door to Lord’s cricket ground – the nephew of a reigning monarch married the granddaughter of an English peer. The couple had announced their engagement a few months earlier, after the bride returned from one of the pre-coronation garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The wedding was attended by British political grandees – Aneurin Bevan, Hugh Gaitskell, Michael Foot – as well as political figures from all around the Commonwealth and the Empire. An international society wedding. Good copy, perhaps, for the society pages. But not, you might think, a moment of high moral significance. That’s not how many at the time saw it. The conservative response was horror. South Africa’s Minister of Justice pronounced the affair “disgusting” in his country’s parliament, waving as he did so a photo of the happy couple. A British paper insisted, on the contrary, that it was a picture “we are proud to print”. The reason for all this anxiety – the reason the wedding had made the front pages, rather than only the society pages – was that it crossed what used to be called the colour bar.

The bride, Peggy, was the daughter of Stafford Cripps, the Labour Party eminence. The bridegroom, Joseph Appiah, was from the Gold Coast in West Africa, and a notable of its independence movement. They were, of course, my parents. As a child, I sometimes flicked through the scrapbooks we had of newspaper coverage of these events. America’s black press seemed to take particular satisfaction in the event. In a country where anti-miscegenation laws weren’t declared unconstitutional until I was in my teens, it was news that in Britain – a country many white Southerners identified with – a Negro could marry into the aristocracy.

More here.

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